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Introductory Memoir, by Arthur D. Coleridge . i 

Clara Novello's Reminiscences 27 

Letters 213 



Clara Novello Frontispiece 

From a painting by her brother, Edward Petre Novello 

The Novello Family .... Facifigpage 48 

From a painting 

Bust of Clara Novello . . . . „ u© 

By Puttinati 



Clara Anastasia Novello was born in England, June 
10, 1818, and died at Rome, March 12, igo8. At the 
early age of eleven she became a pupil at the " Institution 
Royale de Musique classique et religieuse " in Paris, of 
which Choron was the director. But before that time, 
her father — a gifted musician — had accustomed her to sing 
Handel's and Mozart's music, whilst still holding her doll 
in her arms, so that on the trial day, the French examiners 
found that the English child was a very exceptional 
student, and abnormally gifted with a silvery, bell-like, 
clear and ringing voice, which, after studious cultivation, 
became a fixture and a life-long possession. The Revolu- 
tion of 1830 prematurely shortened the studies in Paris, 
and Clara, before her "teens," returned home and appeared 
in public a year or two afterwards. Her first appearance 
was at a concert in the Windsor theatre, where the King's 
private band gratuitously assisted for a charitable object. 
A young Italian happened to be present, and ventured on 
printing two poor lines, which anyhow had some prophetic 
truth in them : 

Canta bene quest' uccello 
Dolce rossignuol — Novello. 

A more solid tribute to her rare musicianship was the 
fact that on Christmas Eve, in the year 1832, she sang the 


2 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

principal soprano part in the first performance in England 
of Beethoven's Mass in D. She was then only fourteen 
years of age, and it should be remembered that Sontag, in 
her girlhood, had in vain implored Beethoven himself to 
make the soprano part less difficult. Clara's was a rare 
achievement, and the precursor of many arduous public 
duties at the Ancient and Philharmonic Concerts and 
provincial festivals ; in Worcester it is recorded that, con- 
temporaneously with Clara Novello, S. S. Wesley (the 
famous organist) made his first festival appearance. But 
her great opportunity was yet to come, and this was the 
engagement for the Royal Musical Festival at Westminster 
Abbey in the summer of 1834. The young girl found 
herself in famous company ; it included Grisi, Tamburini, 
Braham, Rubini, and others less celebrated. The festival 
was a great occasion for England ; Crotch and Turle were 
the organists. Sir George Smart conducted. He had been 
present as a chorister boy at the Handel Festival in the 
preceding century, when Joah Bates (an old Etonian and 
Kingsman) had presided as conductor and organist. The 
selection of a Cambridge M.A, for so important a post has 
always been a mystery to me ; but Sir George told me 
that Bates was in every way competent in his double 
capacity as organist and conductor, for he was pro- 
foundly versed in the Handel traditions which were still 
fresh in the memory of living men. The Italians in the 
festival of 1834 were out of their element ; Tamburini 
alone seems to have satisfied the public ; Grisi and Rubini 
made very slight impression. Mrs. Cowden Clarke in 
her " Recollections of My Long Life " speaks of " Clara's 
enviable calmness and absence of anything like trepida- 
tion while singing the lovely air allotted to her, ' How 

Introductory Memoir 3 

beautiful are the feet.' That quiet truthfulness, that pure, 
firm silvery voice, precisely suited the devout words. Miss 
Stephens was entrusted with ' I know that my Redeemer 
liveth,' and as regards Clara's subsequent singing of the 
very song Miss Stephens had then to sing, it was re- 
markable for the pious fervour of its pouring forth. Miss 
Mulock remarked that she always felt, whilst listening 
to Clara Novello's singing of ' I know that my Redeemer 
liveth,' that she was performing an act of faith. When 
she was at the Court of Berlin some years afterwards, 
his Prussian Majesty always asked her to repeat to 
him that particular song each time she went to the 

On the memorable occasion of the festival in the Abbey, 
Lord Mount Edgcumbe was present, and he had assisted 
at the Handel Commemoration in the year 1784, exactly 
fifty years before, when Madame Mara was the great repre- 
sentative soloist. I once asked John Pratt, the veteran 
organist of King's College, Cambridge, in my scholar's 
days, who — in his estimation — was the greatest singer 
within his recollection, and without hesitation he gave the 
palm to Madame Mara. Possibly he was a laudator tem- 
poris acti, and his lordship and the organist may have 
been inclined to depreciate the style and methods of the 
nineteenth-century singers, wherever they differed from 
the ancient traditions ; but Mara's supremacy was an 
acknowledged fact and has never been seriously ques- 
tioned. The programme of the " Royal Musical Festival " 
of 1834 was a varied one, for the names of Haydn, Bee- 
thoven and less famous men are found in it. Clara Novello 
was trusted with a minor part in a sextet from Haydn's 
1st Mass, the other parts being given to Grisi, Ivanhoff, 

4 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Tamburini, Madame Stockhausen and E. Seguin. The 
sextet was greatly applauded. Lord Mount Edgcumbe's 
words are : " This was really beautiful and perfectly 
well sung ; as was a quartette of Himmel, led by Tambu- 
rini, or rather sung by him, the other voices being quite 
subordinate." Braham made his last public appearance 
(so it was announced) at this festival, though as late as 
1834 he retained all his powers, without diminution or 
decay. These had not been used too wisely in the course 
of his long career, but the vitiated public taste had much 
to do with the lowering of his artistic standard, and a really 
fine artist had to sing down to the level of the groimdlings. 
It seems incredible that English audiences were never 
weary with his pianissimos over such words as " love and 
peace " and the bellowings of a bull of Bashan over " hate, 
war, glory, etc." Leigh Hunt accuses him of " pandering 
too frequently to the vulgarest of public perceptions " ; 
but he adds, with perfect justice, that Braham had the 
wisdom to change all that when he became the dignified 
interpreter of Handel in all his majesty and simplicity. 
Leigh Hunt's words were true to the letter : " This 
renowned vocalist never did himself justice except in the 
compositions of Handel. When he stood in the concert 
room or in the oratorio hall, and opened his mouth with 
plain, heroic utterances, you felt indeed that you had a 
great singer before you. His voice, which too often 
sounded like a vulgar horn in the catchpenny lyrics of 
Tom Dibdin, now became a veritable trumpet of grandeur 
and exaltation ; the tabernacle of his creed seemed to 
open before him in its most victorious days ; and you 
might have fancied yourself in the presence of one of the 
sons of Aaron, calling out to the host of the people from 

Introductory Memoir 5 

some platform occupied by their prophets." Braham 
(wisely shedding the lirst vowel of his real name " Abra- 
ham ") carried on the great traditions of Beard, Handel's 
own favourite tenor, and passed them on to Sims Reeves 
in our own generation. The great composer was eminently 
happy in the opportunity of his chief tenors — Judas 
Maccahaeus, Joshua, Samson, kept the memories of 
Culloden and Dettingen alive in his day, and for years 
afterwards the music of heroic type appealed to every 
warlike instinct from George the Second's reign to Queen 
Victoria's. Clara Novello's success in her very early days 
must have been the cause of deep joy in her family ; it was 
the starting-point and prelude of a long series of triumphs 
at home and abroad. So important an event was felt 
keenly by one of her father's most famous friends — Charles 
Lamb, whose exquisite fooling called forth a choice 
specimen in a letter, addressed to Clara's brother-in-law, 
" Charles Cowden Clarke, Esq." " We heard the music 
in the Abbey at Winchmore Hill, and the notes were 
incomparably softened by the distance. Novello's chro- 
matics were distinctly audible (Vincent Novello was 
one of the organists) ; Clara was faulty in B fiat, 
otherwise she sang like an angel. The trombone and 
Beethoven's waltzes were the best. Who played the 
oboe ? " 

Clara Novello's successes in the early period of her 
career were so lucrative and satisfactory that she con- 
templated a final retirement from her profession, as far 
as England was concerned, though she probably may 
have meant to keep Italy and Germany in reserve. She 
had many friends and admirers in both countries, as her 
subsequent history proved, but her farewell appearance 

6 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

in England was actually announced in the April number 
of the Musical World, 1837, six years prior to her marriage. 
This was the public announcement : — 


Intending to visit Italy in the Autumn of the present year, 
to complete her Studies, proposes to take leave of her 
Friends at her 


which is fixed for 
Monday, April 2^th, 1837, at eight o'clock precisely. 

Principal Performers. 

Mrs. Wood, Miss Masson, Miss Clara Novello, I\Iiss 
Fanny Woodham, Miss Fanny Wyndham, and Mrs. Wm. 

Mr. Braham, Mr. Vaughan, Mr. Hobbs, Signor Begrez, 
Mr. Terrail, Mr. Parry, jun., and Mr. Balfe. 

Miss Clara Novello has the gratification of announcing 
that she has prevailed upon 

Signor Dragonetti 

to depart from his resolution of not playing Solos in public, 
and for this time only he will accompany her in a New 
Song, with Contra Basso obligato, composed expressly for 
this Concert, by Vincent Novello. 

Mr. Mori will play a solo on the violin, 

Mr. Moscheles a Concerto on the pianoforte. 

Mr. Willman will accompany an obligato song by 
Mozart on the cornetto di hassetto. 

During the evening will be performed the Overtures 

Introductory Memoir 7 

to " St. Paul," by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and 
" Zauberflote," by Mozart And Webbe's Double Choir 
Glee, " To Love I wake the silver string." 

Then follows a list of the orchestra. 

Leader — Mr. Frangois Cramer. 

Conductor — Sir George Smart. 

Tickets, los. 6d. each. 

A criticism of the concert in the Musical World of 
April 28, shows that Miss Woodham sang a pretty little 
composition by Henry Goodban. Novello's song was 
called " Thy mighty powers." Willman was not allowed 
to come and play " Non piu di fiori " by the directors of 
another concert. The notice ends with " All good wishes 
for Clara Novello." 

In November, 1843, and after her marriage with Count 
Gigliucci, Clara Novello withdrew for a time from public 
life, and settled at her husband's estate at Fermo, Italy. 
Amongst her operatic performances at home and abroad, 
two especially have a claim on our notice. She appeared 
at Drury Lane Theatre, under Macready's management, 
in an English version (by J. T. Serle, a son-in-law of 
Vincent Novello) of Pacini's " Saffo." Her sister, 
]\Irs. Serle, also appeared in the same opera, and the part 
of Hippias was impersonated by a young tenor named 
on the play-bills — " Mr. J. Reeves," afterwards better 
knowTi as Sims Reeves. " Mr. J. Reeves's rich tenor 
voice was heard to great advantage, though in a small 
part," such is the critic's record. On May 5 of this 
same year, and at Drury Lane, a stage performance of 
Handel's " Acis and Galatea " was given, Clara Novello 
being Galatea and Staudigl impersonating Polyphemus, 

8 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

while Mr. J. Reeves was one of the Sicilian shepherds. 
The late W. S. Rockstro was fond of telling a story of 
which Clara Novello was the heroine ; it will bear repeti- 
tion, a propos of this revival of the English version of 
Pacini's " Saffo." Mr. Rockstro, who was at the sus- 
ceptible age of twenty, watched the performance with 
intense interest ; at the close he was horrified to see the 
singer walk up a rocky pathway until she reached the 
topmost point of the scene, from whence she threw her- 
self down in such a way as to make him think she must 
have killed herself, or at least been injured seriously, out of 
devotion to her art. He had had the honour of an intro- 
duction to Miss Novello, and on the following day he called 
to inquire after her health. She received him with peals 
of laughter, and assured him that his anxiety was thrown 
away. She then explained that she herself did nothing but 
remain behind the first rock which she passed in her 
progress. A " super " dressed exactly like her performed 
the next stage of the journey, being replaced at another 
rock by another rather smaller in size. So the succession 
went on of ladies gradually diminishing in stature as they 
receded, each driven onward by despair, until at last a 
small child at the top, with distraught gestures, threw 
down a bundle of rags into the fathomless abyss. So 
that Saffo herself was safe and sound all the 

The Revolution of 1848, and the temporary confiscation 
of Count Gigliucci's property, made it necessary for Clara 
Novello to resume the practise of her art. Her devotional 
nature (it has been aptly said) found its truest outlet in 
sacred music, and she withdrew from public life after a 
performance of the " Messiah " in i860, a work with 

Introductory Memoir 9 

which, in her day, she had been as closely identified as 
Madame Mara and Mrs. Salmon had been in former 
generations. Her death in 1908 was an event which 
stirred the grateful memories of music lovers throughout 
Europe, and of England in particular. In the flourishing 
days of the Exeter Hall oratorios, dating from 1851 
to nine or ten years later, she was a star of the first magni- 
tude. Some few years before, Caradori Allan may be 
said to have divided the honours ; that gifted lady was 
in high favour with ordinary concert goers, and an acknow- 
ledged favourite with Royal listeners, who delighted in 
her society as well as her singing. But Clara Novello, 
though more than half Italian, appealed to the ordinary 
Englishman in sacred music as no other of her contem- 
poraries succeeded in doing. For many years she was 
well supported by Miss Dolby, Lockey, and Phillips, all 
three artists being excellent musicians, trained to their 
professional work from their earliest days, and held in 
high esteem by Mendelssohn, as readers of his letters will 
doubtless remember. Her own musical education had 
been of quite an exceptional order ; it began at home 
under the care of her father, Vincent Novello, the well- 
known organist of the Portuguese Chapel in Manchester 
Square, whose versatile tastes attracted to his house the 
" fleur fine " of poets as well as musicians. Pre-eminent 
amongst his guests were Charles and Mary Lamb, Shelley, 
Keats, Leigh Hunt, Coulson, Charles Cowden Clarke, 
Henry Robertson, and John Byng Gatries. The last two 
are named as being linked with Vincent Novello in a 
sonnet by Leigh Hunt, addressed to " Henry Robertson, 
John Gatries, and Vincent Novello, not keeping their 
appointed hours." 

lo Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Harry, my friend, who full of tasteful glee 
Have music all about you, heart and lips ; 
And John, whose voice is like a rill that slips 
Over the sunny pebbles breathingly ; 
And Vincent, you, who with like mastery 
Can chase the notes with fluttering finger-tips 
Like fairies down a hill hurrying their trips. 
Or sway the organ with firm royalty ; 
Why stop ye the i-oad ? . . . . 

The suppers and symposiums were of the most modest 
description ; cheese and beer were quite enough for the 
guests, and Lamb was perfectly happy at the evening 

parties of his " good CathoHc friend, Nov , who, by 

the aid of a capital organ, himself the most finished of 
players, converts his drawing-room into a chapel, his 
week-days into Sundays, and these latter into minor 
heavens. When my friend commences upon one of those 
solemn anthems, which peradventure struck upon my 
heedless ears, rambling in the side aisles of the dim abbey, 
some five and thirty years since, waking a new sense, and 
putting a soul of old religion into my young apprehensions 
— whether it be that in which the Psalmist, weary of the 
persecutions of bad men, wisheth to himself dove's wings, 
or that other, which, with a like measure of sobriety and 
pathos, inquireth by what means the young man shall 
best cleanse his mind — a holy calm pervadeth me . . . 
the coming in of the friendly supper tray dissipates the 
figment, and a draught of true Lutheran beer (in which 
chiefly my friend shows himself no bigot) at once recon- 
ciles me to the rationalities of a purer faith, and restores 
to me the genuine unterrifying aspects of my pleasant- 
countenanced host and hostess." Charles Lamb's whims 
and eccentricities were never forgotten in her old age by 
Clara Novello, who delighted in recounting them to one 

Introductory Memoir 1 1 

of her intimate friends (my own cousin) at Rome. Lamb's 

insensibility to music probably gave a piquancy to his 

welcome in the organist's house, and he more than repaid 

the musician's hospitality by poems which showed his 

appreciation of the father and daughter, apart from and 

irrespective of their professional distinction. Between 

Doctor Johnson and Bumey there never could have been 

the faintest musical affinity ; they were intimate friends 

nevertheless. Coming to later days, Sidney Smith, hurling 

frequent gibes at Attwood and Goss, found both of those 

eminent organists only too glad to be made the butts of 

the unmusical canon. We all remember Charles Lamb's 

estimate of Vincent Novello's idols, but a selection from 

his good-natured satire will not be out of place : 

Cannot a man live free and easy 

Without admiring Pergolesi, 

Or through the world in comfort go 

That never heard of Doctor Blow ? 

Of Doctor Pepusch old Queen Dido 

Knows just as much, God knows, as I do. 

I would not go four miles to visit 

Sebastian Bach (or Batch which is it ?). 

No more I would for Bononcini — 

As for Novello, or Rossini 

I shall not say a word to grieve 'em 

Because they're living so I leave them — 

If this innocent libel made Vincent Novello wince, the 
hurt was completely cured by verses from the same author, 
which appeared in the Athenaeum, dated July, 1834, and 
headed : 


The Gods have made me most unmusical 
With feelings that respond not to the call 
Of stringed harp or voices obtuse and mute 
To hautboy, sackbut, dulcimer and flute ; 

* See page 33. 

12 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

King David's lyre that made the madness flee 

From Saul, has been but a Jew's harp to me. 

Theorbo, violins, French horns, Guitars 

Leave in my wounded ears inflicted scars, 

I hate those trills and shakes and sounds that float 

Upon the captive ear ; I know no note 

Nor ever shall, whatever folks may say. 

Of the strange mystery of Sol and Fa : 

I sit at oratorios like a fish 

Incapable of sound, and only wish 

The thing was done — Yet do I admire 

O tuneful daughter of a tuneful sire, 

Thy painful labour in a science, which 

To your deserts, I pray may make you rich 

As much as you are loved and add a grace 

To this most musical Novello race, 

Women lead men by the nose some cynics say ; 

You draw them by the ears — a delicater way. 

As a qualification of her brother's " Free Thoughts on 
some Eminent Composers," Mary Lamb subjoined the 
following : 

The reason why my brother's so severe, 

Vincentio, is — my brother has no ear ; 

And Caradori her mellifluous throat 

Might stretch in vain to make him learn a note. 

Of common tunes he knows not anything, 

Nor " Rule Britannia" from " God save the King." 

He rail at Handel ! He the gamut quiz ! 

I'd lay my life he knows not what it is. 

His spite at music is a pretty whim. 

He loves not it, because it loves not him. 

M. Lamb. 

Charles Lamb's whimsical assumption of musical 
knowledge reaches the highest pitch of absurdity in " An 
Epithalamium in the form of a Sonata," which he w^as to 
send to Vincent Novello to set to music ; the sonata was 
in honour of " The Marriage of Charles Cowden Clarke, 
Esq., to Victoria, eldest daughter of Vincent Novello, Esq." 

Introductory Memoir 13 

" I have attended to the proper divisions of the music, and 
you will have little difficulty in composing it. If I may 
advise, make Pepusch your model, or Blow. . . . Your 
exquisite taste will prevent your falling into the error of 
Purcell's fate." This is rare fooling. Lamb had already 
confessed : 

Of Doctor Pepusch old Queen Dido 
Knows just as much, God knows, as I do. 

He was also guilty of the lines : 

Or through the world with comfort go 
That never heard of Doctor Blow. 

and yet Vincenzio is recommended to base his music on 
the supposed ideals of the two composers. 

Mrs. Cowden Clarke tells us that her father's most 
eminent pupil was Edward Holmes, author of " A Ramble 
among the Musicians in Germany," and of " Mozart's 
Life." At school he had been the intimate friend of John 
Keats, and his taste for letters helped to the vigour of 
style which is conspicuous in his writings upon music. 
Under Novello he learned the deep secrets of music, and 
for many years was organist at Poplar Church and at 
Holloway Chapel. His enthusiasm for his favourites led 
him to sacrifice years of his life in Germany, collecting 
materials for a " Biography of Mozart," which to this day 
is a real monument to that composer's memory. We 
shall be pardoned for wandering for a space in the house- 
hold and amidst the surroundings of Clara Novello's 
home-life, for she had seen some of the choicest spirits of 
the age, and such influences largely contributed to the 
formation of her character. 

14 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Her name never failed to attract lovers of sacred 
music to Exeter Hall ; it was an ample security for 
costs, as it enabled the managers to venture on the pro- 
duction of such oratorios as Deborah, Samson, Joshua, 
Solomon, and other less familiar works of Handel, always 
provided that the best leading exponent of the soprano 
part was there to interpret it. The soloists one and all 
had to wrestle with the language of many of the Handelian 
Recitatives. Here is a gem from " Susanna " : 

'Tis thus the crocodile his grief displays, 

Sheds the false tear, and whilst he weeps, betrays. 

With such examples before him, Mendelssohn's fastidious- 
ness in his selection of words for his oratorios or 
librettos for intended operas is easily accounted for. 
He has recorded for all times his admiration of 
Charles Lockey who for many years was the indis- 
pensable tenor at Exeter Hall, and did duty at the first 
performance of " Elijah " at Birmingham. On that 
memorable occasion his singing of " Then shall the 
righteous " brought tears to the eyes of the composer, 
who had only measured words of praise for Caradori 
Allan, the leading soprano at that historic festival. In 
after years Lockey was succeeded, and his fame too soon 
eclipsed, by Sims Reeves, who, after his comparative 
failure on the Italian stage in England, found, as did 
Braham before him, his true metier in sacred music. His 
singing, judged by the standard of to-day, was at one 
time rough and coarse, though an admitted improvement 
on that of preceding years. In the earliest days of Exeter 
Hall and the Ancient Concerts, the soprano section of 
the chorus depended on twelve ladies, known familiarly 

Introductory Memoir 15 

by the name of " The Twelve Lancashire Witches," 
imported specially from their musical county, as being 
the only reliable persons to take up the points in the 
intricate fugal passages. Still, with some drawbacks 
unforgivable by the more fastidious audiences to-day, an 
oratorio at Exeter Hall before the days of " Elijah " 
was an event ever to be remembered with gratitude, 
and specially by the country cousin who came to London 
for musical enlightenment. Two familiar figures and 
faces in the orchestra were always pointed out to 
" the friend from the country " as leading and supple- 
mentary features of the entertainment. These were 
Lindley and Dragonetti, of whom the late Henry Chorley 
tells in his " Thirty Years of Musical Recollections." 

" In the Opera House or at Exeter Hall, these veterans 
were always hailed with a cheer from the audience. There 
was no escaping from the entrance of Lindley and Dra- 
gonetti into the orchestra — a pair of favourite figures 
whose sociable companionship for some fifty years was as 
remarkable as their appearance was contrasted — no two 
figures imaginable being more unlike than the round, 
good-humoured, comely visage of the Yorkshireman and 
that of the great Venetian, as brown and tough as one of 
his own strings. On what the affectionate regard main- 
tained between them was fed it is hard to say, for both 
were next to unintelligible in their speech — the English- 
man from an impediment in utterance ; the Italian from 
the disarranged mixture of many languages in which he 
expressed his sentiments and narrated his adventures. 
They talked to each other on the violoncello and double 
bass, bending their heads with quiet confidential smiles, 
which were truly humorous to see. Nothing has been 

1 6 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

since heard to compare with the intimacy of this mutual 
musical sympathy. Nor is a pair of figures so truly 
characteristic now to be seen in any orchestra ; these two 
are among the sights of London that have vanished for 
ever." I can confirm the truth of the writer's observa- 
tions on these two famous instrumental players, adding a 
fresh episode which I witnessed myself at Exeter Hall, 
viz., the exchange of pinches of snuff from their mutual 
boxes. This act of old-fashioned politeness was always 
the signal for a cheer. To be sure, the public enthusiasm 
over so trifling an act of civUity was rather irrational. 
A lawyer, seeing old Dragonetti convulsed by some recon- 
dite joke, veiled under the symbolism of Lindley's violon- 
cello, would say : " Well, I suppose Lindley has made a 
joke, but he certainly has reserved the point." No two 
contemporaneous orchestral players had greater claim on 
public respect and attention than the English violoncellist 
and the Venetian double-bass player. Dragonetti's fame 
was European ; he had been on intimate terms with 
Haydn and Beethoven. For over half a century he had 
played at the same desk with Lindley at the Opera, the 
Ancient Concerts, the Philharmonic and the Provincial 
Festivals. At the age of eighty-two he headed the 
thirteen double-basses at the Beethoven Festival at Bonn 
in 1845. The Exeter Hall audience, probably unconscious 
of these historical antecedents, used to cheer the veteran 
for the love of his old face ; to them he was part and parcel 
of the evening's entertainment ; no one recalling the 
oratorio of those days can dissociate Dragonetti and his 
less famous associate from his Exeter Hall reminiscences. 
I should add in my references to Dragonetti that there is 
a lasting testimony to the intimacy between Vincent 

Introductory Memoir 17 

Novello and himself in the many volumes of music which 
exist in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and in other 
libraries, with elaborate inscriptions written by Novello, 
explaining how the books came to him " from his dear 
friend Dragonetti," and how their recipient passed them 
on to various English libraries on his departure to Italy 
in 1849. 

Plain living and high thinking were found so attractive 
in the Novello household that Lamb, Shelley, Keats, and 
Leigh Hunt were wont to consult the organist on their 
private affairs, and be advised by him on matters affecting 
their ordinary life. The bread and cheese, the Lutheran 
beer, were quite good enough for them, and poor consump- 
tive Keats seemed to brighten under Lamb's incorrigible 
quips and jokes. He writes to a friend : "I have seen 
Lamb lately. Brown and I were taken by Leigh Hunt 
to Novello's ; there we were devastated and excruciated 
with bad and repeated puns." Leigh Hunt passed some 
of his happiest days in Vincent Novello's house : " There 
I met my old friend Henry Robertson, treasurer of Covent 
Garden Theatre, in whose company and that of Vincent 
Novello, Charles Cowden Clarke, and other gifted estimable 
men, I have enjoyed some of the most humorous evenings 
of my life, in every sense of the word " ; and he links 
Novello's name with those of Horace Smith and Shelley, 
in terms which do honour to the modesty and unselfishness 
of the popular musician. This is his testimony : " Horace 
Smith differed with Shelley on some points ; but on 
others, which all the world agree to praise highly and to 
practise very little, he agreed so entirely, and showed 
unequivocally that he did agree, that, with the exception 
of one person (Vincent Novello), too diffident to gain such 


1 8 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

an honour from his friends, they were the only two men 
I had then met with from whom I could be sure of the 
unmixed motives and entire absence of self -reflection, 
with which it would come from them." 

The musical evenings were honoured on one occasion 
by Malibran, De Beriot, and Felix Mendelssohn ; every 
one was in the best humour, and Clara Novello's sister, 
]\Irs. Cowden Clarke, has left a record of what happened. 
, . , " De Beriot played in a string quartet of Haydn's 
with that perfect tone and style which distinguished him. 
Then his wife gave in generously lavish succession Mozart's 
" Non piu di fiori," with Willman's obligato accompani- 
ment on the como di bassetto, a "Sancta Maria " of her 
host's composition (which she sang at sight with consum- 
mate effect and expression), a gracefully tender air, " Ah, 
rien n'est doux comme la voix qui dit je t'aime," and 
lastly a spirited mariner's song with a sailorly burden, 
chiming as it were with their rope-hauling. In these 
two latter she accompanied herself ; and when she had 
concluded, among a roar of admiring plaudits from all 
present, she ran up to one of the heartiest among the 
applauding guests — Felix Mendelssohn — and said, in her 
own winning, playfully imperious manner (which a touch 
of foreign speech and accent made only the more fascina- 
ting), " Now, Mr. Mendelssohn, I never do nothing for 
nothing ; you must play for me now I have sung for 
you." He, " nothing loath," let her lead him to the piano- 
forte, where he dashed into a wonderfully impulsive 
extempore — masterly, musician-like, full of gusto. In 
this marvellous improvisation he introduced the several 
pieces Malibran had just sung, working them with admir- 
able skill one after the other ; and, finally, in combination, 

Introductory Memoir 19 

the four subjects blended together in elaborate counter- 
point. When Mendelssohn had finished his performance, 
Vincent Novello turned to an esteemed friend, who was 
one of the hearers, and expressed his admiration in these 
remarkable words : "He has done some things that seem 
to me impossible, even after I have heard them done." 

Mendelssohn succeeded in engaging the services of 
Clara Novello at the Gewandhaus Concerts at Leipzig in 
1837. The venture was quite successful, though Germany 
in those days was by no means whole-hearted in an 
exclusive worship of Handel. It may be that the com- 
paratively recent discovery of the " Matthew Passion " 
and the first performance in 1829 under Mendelssohn 
himself had encouraged the belief that a possible rival 
for supremacy had been found in Sebastian Bach, whose 
greatness had been vehemently asserted by Samuel 
Wesley in England. The feeling in Germany finds 
expression in Schumann's criticism on Clara Novello, 
in which he puts three questions indicative of a rather 
chastened and qualified enthusiasm for Handel, whose 
real home had been in England, his adopted country, for 
the greater part of his life. IMendelssohn, in a letter 
written to the secretary of the Philharmonic Society, 
speaks of Clara Novello and Mrs. Shaw as " the best 
concert-singers we have heard in Germany for a long 

Clara Novello at an early period in her career had 
distinguished herself as the leading soprano in " Semi- 
ramide," " Puritani," and other operas which then and 
long afterwards flourished and held the stage. She was 
admired by Rossini in the zenith of his fame, when the 
young artist made her first appearance in opera at Padua. 

20 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

In her range and versatility of musical knowledge she 
more nearly resembled Viardot Garcia than any other of 
her colleagues ; if she lacked the original genius of jNIali- 
bran's sister, the freshness of voice made her more uni- 
versally attractive. It will be seen in the following pages 
that, when Crisis and Persianis were still to the fore, 
Rossini was anxious that the young English singer should 
be secured to take the leading part in the " Stabat Mater " 
in Italy. With her clear resonant voice, ranging from C 
below the stave to D in alt, the florid music of the modern 
Italian school was well within her compass. One of her 
chief operatic triumphs was in Rossini's greatest opera 
" Guillaume Tell " at Madrid. But it was in the home 
of her birth that she achieved her most enduring fam.e, 
and at the Crystal Palace and the Handel Festivals she 
led on the great army of Handelian worshippers and 
" triumphed gloriously." Foreign artists, such as Formes, 
when engaged to sing in the " Elijah " and " Creation " 
with Clara NoveUo as leading soprano, were awkwardly 
contrasted with a lady whose pure singing, perfect intona- 
tion, and correct phrasing were unfailing guarantees for 
enjoyment. After her rendering of " With verdure clad " 
or "On Mighty Pens " in the " Creation," or " Hear ye 
Israel," in " Elijah," it was hard work to endure the 
murder of the Queen's English : "In long dimenshuns 
kreeps with sinuous trace the vorm (worm) " ; or, "I 
never trubbled Israel's pease (peace) ; it is thoo, Aharb 
(Ahab)," etc. BeUetti was a shade better ; but he too, 
now and again, contributed more to the hilarity of the 
audience than to the subdued feelings which should 
predominate on such occasions. Perhaps the jarring 
contrasts added an extra laurel to the unfailing devotion 

Introductory Memoir 21 

bestowed by a grateful public on a singer who had served 
her country for long years so faithfully and so well. 

My friend, Dr. Cummings, sends me copies of very 
interesting letters in connection with Clara Novello, 
reminding me of the strange vicissitudes in her career. 
Attention has already been called to these events. In 
1837 Clara Novello went to Germany, and at that time 
Spontini was Capellmeister to the King of Prussia in 
Berlin. He was evidently annoyed by the great reputa- 
tion of the foreign artist, and writes in dudgeon to Moritz 
Ganz and Leopold Ganz, both of whom were members of 
the Royal band in Berlin. The letter would probably 
have been written in the early days of February, 1838 : 

Je prie Messieurs Ganz de faire jouer dans leur 
prochain Concert le jeune Gustave Gavert (un court 
morceau) et de venir me parler au sujet du Fest-marsch, 
car je trouverai un peu ridicule que Mile. Novello chantat, 
pour la 3me fois en public dans I'espace de 8 jours, des 
louanges des Rois Anglais au nez de Roi de Prusse. 



A letter from Clara Novello to my friend written from 
152, Via Rosella, Rome, May 10, 1891, is interesting and 

Dear Mr. Cummings. 

In reply to yours dated 6th May, I did sing 
the " appoggiature " as Handel intended, for I was 
taught that two consecutive notes, thus noted as in 
Recitative, etc., meant " appoggiature " either from above 
or below, at singer's choice. Handel wrote mostly for 
Italian singers. 

I once asked Rossini if a " Cabaletta " might be 
varied. He replied : " The repeat is made expressly that 
each singer may vary it, so as best to display her (or his) 

22 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

peculiar capacities ; therefore the first time the com- 
poser's music should be exactly given." These traditions 
get lost, which leads to many discussions. I well remember 
your wife's father, and my pride and delight when he told 
me he had named his little girl after me. 

With thanks for your kind expressions, 
I remain, 

Yours very cordially, 

Clara Gigliucci. 

Dr. Cammings adds : " Some foolish person had been 
arguing with me respecting the tradition of the intro- 
duction of appoggiature in Handel's music. To convince 
him, I wrote, asking for a line from Clara Novello. 

" W. H. C." 

I reckon it a privilege to be allowed to print a kind 
letter written to Mrs. Cummings {nee Hobbs) : simple 
in language, it means a great deal to those who can read 
between the lines : 

My dear Namesake, 

Although not personally known to you, Mr. 
Hobbs has told me so much of you which has interested 
me that I can only regret my being so busy that I cannot 
come to see you, and make up in some degree by writing 
a line. 

May God bless and prosper all your undertakings, 
and continue to make you, as you now are, the pride and 
delight of your family ; this is the prayer and wish of 
your affectionate well-wisher and godmother, 

Clara Novello Gigliucci. 

Hereford, Sep. i6th, 1852. 

To Clara Hobbs. 

My friend sends me in a letter some of his recollections 
and experiences during the last years of Clara Novello's 
professional days in England. Noscitur a sociis is a good 

Introductory Memoir 23 

reliable proverb, and Dr. Cummings' words confirm my 
belief that on retiring to private life, she left troops of 
friends, not one of whom grudged her acknowledged 
eminence in her profession. The brightest lamps shine 
all the better for being fed with the purest oil. The leading 
English soprano of her day bore a character beyond 
reproach ; it silenced any whisper of envy or detraction. 
Her creed was that of an ardent Catholic, but the fervour 
of her devotion, aided by the persuasiveness of her art, 
helped largely to make men and women of all shades of 
religious opinion wiser and better. 

I should add by way of supplementary matter another 
quotation in Dr. Cummings' letter. 

I knew Clara Novello rather intimately. She and 
my father-in-law, J. W. Hobbs, were, in early years, in 
constant friendly intercourse, and she became godmother 
to my wife, Clara. I travelled with her in England, 
Ireland and Scotland during her farewell tour in i860. 
Daily contact with her gave me a high opinion of her 
knowledge and intelligence, and above all, of her good 
heart. She was the personification of kindness. I had 
rather a severe attack of illness at Sheffield, when she 
nursed me and looked after my wants and comforts. Her 
voice was clear, resonant, and beautiful, absolutely free 
from vibrato. She had been well-trained, and had inherited 
the best traditions from the past. Her method of singing 
was admirable, particularly in the management of the 
breath ; hence the correctness of her phrasing. As an 
example, take the opening of Handel's " I know that my 
Redeemer liveth." She sang the words in one long con- 
tinuous breath, and thereby preserved the sense. Nowa- 
days it is quite common to divide the phrase into three 
portions. One day, when rehearsing Beethoven's Mass in D 
at the pianoforte, in Store Street, Clara Novello suggested 
to Formes that we should try a certain movement again, 
remarking that the passage was very difficult. Formes, 

24 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

the bass, interposed : "Oh no ; it is Mutter's Milch." 
She rephed, " Then, I think, Formes, you must have been 
brought up by hand." A well-deserved rebuke, for he had 
floundered considerably. 

Yours sincerely, 


This evidence is valuable as a corroboration of the 
general estimate of the homage paid to a great artist by 
a professional colleague. That she was " the personifica- 
tion of kindness " even to an amateur, was proved in my 
own instance, for on the two occasions when I met her, 
she, unconsciously perhaps, bequeathed to me some of the 
happiest recollections of my life. One of these was in 
the house of a mutual friend, and the other on the platform 
of the Philharmonic Society in the Hanover Square 
Rooms, at a full rehearsal of a performance which 
Sims Reeves was prevented from attending. Sterndale 
Bennett invited me to step down from the chorus in his 
" May Queen," and sing the chief tenor part with Clara 
Novello and Weiss, who made up the trio. On the other 
occasion, I was completely taken aback by an offer Clara 
Novello made me of singing on that evening any duet I 
might care to choose. I suddenly remembered that the 
gracious lady had appeared at Madrid in " William Tell," 
a work in which I had recently been well drilled by Schira, 
my singing master ; so, with the rashness of an amateur, I 
pitched on the great duet in the second act of that opera. 
It was selfishly the greatest musical enjoyment I ever had, 
and many years afterwards I reminded the lady of my 
indebtedness to her for her kindness and encouragement. 

I am persuaded that the publication of Clara Novello's 
recollections dictated to others or written by herself will 
attract many grateful readers. 



On the death of Clara Novello, in March, 1908, numerous 
notices on her appeared in the Enghsh papers. The 
constant-hearted Enghsh pubhc had not forgotten its old 
favourite, though over forty-seven years had elapsed since 
her last appearance in England, and nearly a hundred 
such notices were forwarded to her family by kind 
English friends,* But the notices referred almost ex- 
clusively, and rightly so, to the artist only, and many 
and pressing were the solicitations on all sides, that 
some record should be made of the woman as well, o 
her vivid personality, of her shrewd and witty sayings, 
of the many interesting experiences of her life, so often 
related by her in her own incisive diction, and with 
a verve and colouring derived from face and voice, 
which gave raciness to many a tale, not in itself par- 
ticularly interesting. But it was the very zest which 
her anecdotes received from her herself which made me 
(her daughter) fear that a repetition of the same, shorn 
of their principal charm, would in no way give an ade- 
quate idea of the originals, and for many months I 

* Quite the best of these, and the most correct in every detail, is 
the one which appeared in The Musical Times, April r, 1908. 

2 8 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

never gave it a thought. But on looking over her papers, 
I came on a packet of manuscripts, in her hand, which 
proved to be a sort of memoir of herself, and I felt 
that here, perhaps, was what her friends and admirers 
had asked for, if the manuscript could be put in a form 
presentable to the public. 

The reminiscences, clear and precise as to facts, 
are not written in chronological order, nor in one epoch ; 
many of the incidents have been jotted down separately, 
as they passed through her mind, and were considered 
worth recording. Of her life after 1872 she says but 
little, and no more at all after 1893, the year of her 
husband's death ; this, however, is not so much to be 
regretted, because her life, from that period onwards, 
possesses but little variety, and less interest for the 

The reminiscences have no pretension to literary 
merit of any kind whatsoever, and were not written for 
publication, but solely for Clara Novello's family. 

The letters introduced into the text, and added in the 
appendix, have been chosen by the compiler both on 
account of the writers, and of the subjects they treat of. 
The compilation has not been easy, on many accounts, 
and for its many shortcomings the compiler hopes the 
indulgent reader will find sufficient compensation in 
the memoirs themselves. 

Clara Novello was born in London on the loth June, 
1818, in Oxford Street, the fourth daughter of Vincenzo 
Novello, son of an Italian father and English mother, 
and of Mary Sabilla Hehl, daughter of a German father 
and Irish mother. 

The Novcllo Family 29 

The theory, generally accepted, that the fusion of 
races produces fine specimens of the human plant, was 
singularly verified in the Novello family. Endowed 
with splendid health, and an unusual fund of physical 
staying powers, they each and all possessed intellectual 
and artistic gifts of no mean order, and distinguished 
themselves all in greater or lesser degree — Mary Cowden 
Clarke in letters, authoress of many works, chief of which 
— the "Complete Concordance to Shakespeare," — she 
began at nineteen years of age, and continued uninter- 
ruptedly to its completion, for nineteen more ; Alfred 
in commerce, founder, together with his father, of the 
publishing house Novello and Co., and pioneer of cheap 
music — this, not so much with a view to money-making, 
which was a rather unexpected result, but from his 
intense love of music, and belief in its refining influence, 
which benefit he wished extended to the poorer classes, 
cheap music promoting choir and part-singing ; Edward 
and Emma in painting ; Cecilia on the stage ; Clara in 
vocal art ; Sabilla in music and letters. Their industry, 
inherited in equal measure from both parents, was quite 
exceptional — " efficiently industrious," as a friend once 
truly characterized them. This unswerving industry was 
doubtless one of the principal factors of their success 
in life. Their practical views, clear perception of worldly 
advantages and how best to secure these, were curiously 
blended with a complete indifference to money when 
possessed, with lofty ideals in art, and an unworldliness 
often bordering on childlike simplicity. Over these 
apparently contradictory tendencies sparkled a vivacious 
wit, keen sense of humour, and a picturesque imagina- 
tiveness which produced a combination whose originality 

30 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

and piquant charm will not easily be forgotten by those 
who associated with the Novello family. 

Among the brilliant sisterhood, Clara was not the 
least favoured by nature, and, in regard to personal 
appearance, quite the flower of the flock. Of middle 
height — '• precisely the height of the Vaius de Medicis," 
as a tailor gravely stated, on taking her measure once 
for a stage costume — she was finely proportioned, 
and her hands so perfect in shape and size that the 
sculptor, Puttinati, in Italy, begged to take a cast of 
them, as well as to make her bust in marble. She had 
delicate, regular features, an exquisite complexion, and 
such masses of bright brown hair, that her mother was 
constantly criticised for allowing her daughter to " wear 
so much false hair," to disprove which Mrs. Novello 
would sometimes order Clara to let down her hair, to 
the girl's vexation, who, totally indifferent then, as she 
was through life, to the criticism of outsiders, felt only 
the inconvenience of redressing her magnificent hair, to 
lighten the immense load of which she once cut off half- 
a-yard ! 


People discuss how soon children comprehend 
or remember what is said or done before them ; 
this, like almost everything else, is according to 
individuals, and not to be generalized. I cannot 
have been more than three years old when baby 
Florence was christened, in No. 8, Percy Street, 
b}^ Mgr. Victor Fryer, chaplain to the Portuguese 

Childhood 3 1 

Embassy, where my dear father was for years the 
renowned organist. I was stood on a chair, being 
so small, and much impressed by this solemnity, 
can remember every detail of the room. Mgr. 
Fryer was godfather to us all, I believe, and Mrs. 
Cowden Clarke was named Victoria after him. 
This christening is the first thing I can recall, 
and of its being in No. 8, Percy Street, because 
my mother taught us early our address, in case 
we were lost. I wonder if this is why I always 
remember addresses better than most things ? 


My next remembrance is of being at Shackle- 
well Green, and of baby Charlie's birth and death, 
and being shown him surrounded by wall-flowers — 
to this day my best-loved flowers, first greeting 
of Spring. 

The house in Shacklewell formed the corner 
of the "Green," and stood in its own gardens — 
a small front one, and beyond the entrance gate, 
a row of shady lime-trees. At the back of the 
house, called " The Cottage " — such a sweet, 
rural sound ! — was a somewhat larger garden, 
flanked by big trees, in one of which hung a 
swing. Beyond, was a large fruit orchard, and 
my favourite resort was its cherry tree, up which 
I soon climbed, and used to lie at length on its 

32 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

cross branches, which made quite a luxurious 
couch, dreaming of deserts and forests, and 
watching an Itahan, Sarti, as he worked under 
the shady elder trees, which seemed to me quite 
a gloomy, lovely forest. This Sarti had been 
permitted to take a cast of a head of Mercury 
my father possessed, and fond of children, as 
most Italians are, would make us balls of plaster 
to our great delight. 

Every child, I fancy, invents its own idea of 
what the stars are — those wonders, fascinating 
to every age. My belief was that they were 
holes, pricked in the blue sky, through which one 
saw the glory of God, and I used even to listen 
if any sounds of angels' singing, or harps, could 
be audible. 

From these delights I was often called away 
by my father's pupil, Mr. Edward Holmes, who 
amused himself teaching me to sing Boyce's 
anthem, " So shall we rejoice," and other things, 
after he discovered me singing Di tanti palpiti, 
in imitation of a barrel-organ's performance of 
the same, and my making some sort of cadence 
to join it on to " Cherr}^ ripe." 

The cottage had several parlours, all looking 
into the garden. Into these often came to tea, 
Leigh Hunt ; Mrs. Shelley, widow of the poet ; 
Mrs. Williams — later Mrs. Hogg ; Charles Lamb 
and his sister. Even thus early I felt those sym- 
pathies, and the reverse, which have been mine 

Charles Lamb 33 

all through life. How I loved dear Charles Lamb ! 
I once hid — to avoid the ignominy of going to 
bed — in the upright (cabinet) pianoforte, which in 
its lowest part had a sort of tiny cupboard. In 
this I fell asleep, awakening only when the party 
was supping. My appearance from beneath the 
pianoforte was hailed with surprise by all, and 
with anger from my mother ; but Charles Lamb 
not only took me under his protection, but 
obtained that henceforth I should never again 
be sent to bed when he came, but — glory and 
delight ! — always sit up to supper. Later, in 
Frith Street days, my father made me sing to him 
one da}'; but he stopped me, saying, ** Clara, 

don't make that d d noise ! " for which, I 

think, I loved him as much as for all the rest. 
Some verses he sent me were addressed to '* St. 
Clara " ! * 

Leigh Hunt had ever, to me, a taint of affecta- 
tion and self-complacency, and his family was 
even less to my taste. He used to call women and 
men the fair and the unfair sex ! — true as well 
as witty. 

Mrs. Shelley I adored, also her six-year-old 
son, Percy, who was my tyrant, and I let him 
beat me, his abject slave, with his wooden cart, 
when the paper cannon-balls were insufficiently 

* These appear to be the lines (of a far later date) headed " To 

Clara N ," which were first printed in The Athenaeum in 1834, 

and are to be found on page 1 1 of this volume. They begin " The 
•Gods have made me most unmusical." 

34 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

supplied by us little ones to the fighters of the 
Battle of Bunker's Hill — repeatedly fought on 
the top of a tiny mound by Perc}^, my brothers, 
and other boys. Acting plays also, heroic and 
sacred, with pinafores reversed, was another 
game of never-failing delight to us all. 

Mrs. Williams, on the other hand, vainly 
spent her blandishments on me ; when invited 
to spend some days with her, I hid away, and 
when discovered and carried off by her, I so mis- 
behaved myself, that she was constrained to send 
me back home — and the same happened with 
the Leigh Hunt family. 

My dear mother was a strict disciplinarian, 
but also cultivated the hearts of her children. 
As a specimen : One day a poor woman and her 
girl entered our garden at Shacklewell, offering 
matches and begging. Matches, then, were broad, 
fiat, and pointed with sulphur, made into dozens, 
and looking like fans. As the girl held the parcel, 
it struck us as if she were fanning herself with 
it, and this so tickled me, I roared with laughter ; 
my mother, entering, told us we were hard- 
hearted and rude, and I was ordered to go and 
excuse myself to the girl — a mortification I never 
forgot — and she added that if money can't be 
given, for many reasons, civil and kind words 
are ever due to the poor. 

Once, in a passion, I hurled several music 
books out of the second floor window, and she 

Discipline 35 

ordered me to go down and bring up each volume, 
one at a time. How this mortified me ! I felt 
the whole world looking at me, and that the 
number of volumes was without end ! An admir- 
able punishment, both in lengthening out, and 
avoiding undue fatigue to the little culprit. 
Another time I threw myself on to the floor, 
and distinctly remember trying to cry myself 
into convulsions. My mother left me so for a 
time, but presently came and stood over me, 
saying very gravely, " Get up, Clara, and try 
to control yourself, now ; and in future, if you 
do not, you will injure your health permanently; 
every one will dislike and try to avoid you, and 
they will be able to do so, but remember that 
you will never be able to avoid yourself!" and 
her words made such an impression on me, though 
I must have been very little at the time, that I 
have remembered it all my life ! 

Mrs. isovello was a woman of no ordinary kind ; her 
daughter, Mrs. Cowden Clarke, in her " Life and Labours 
of Vincent Novello," has depicted her as wife and mother, 
unselfish and devoted, intellectually gifted, and quite 
the ruling spirit in the household. Tenderly, even 
enthusiastically, as the father was loved, he was the 
whole day from home teaching, and for the short time 
he was resting, during meals and in the evening, the mother 
instructed the young ones to spare him in every way, 
and take to her all their troubles, questionings, and 
requests. Clara Novello has often related how it was 

36 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

a point of honour with them all, as children, never to 
ask " papa " for pocket-money, because he always 
gave at once, too busy or preoccupied to " weigh and 
consider," whereas they felt free to turn to the mother, 
who often gave ear to the little petitioners, but quite 
as often denied them. 

When about five years old, I went on my 
first journey, whither I do not know, only well 
remember some of its details. I was entrusted 
to a jolly guard, Bonus — well deserved name ! — 
who took charge of me, and beautifully he carried 
it out, dear, rubicund fellow. I was put, alone, 
in the inside of the coach, where I felt very 
sea-sick, and at every change of horses Bonus 
came to look at me and cheer me up, now with 
some lively speech, now with a splendid apple — 
the size of my head ! — called " Glories of the 
West," as I learnt later, and when the stage 
coach stopped for dinner. Bonus gave me to 
the landlady to have my face washed — a true 
and admirably English refreshment of great 


When about seven years old, I was sent to 
Miss Betsy Hill, in York, where Alfred was 
apprenticed in business, to study under Mr. John 
Robinson, a music teacher, and organist to the 

A Substitute 37 

Catholic Chapel in York. He gave me rare and 
short and detested lessons on the pianoforte, 
hitting my knuckles with a big red pencil he 
marked fingerings with. I was left for hours 
daily before the pianoforte, in a room seldom 
used, and soon I substituted for Cramer's Exer- 
cises any vocal music I could run off with from 
the shelves, and thus I learnt to read and decipher 
new music, never reflecting that my delinquency 
would be discovered b}' my voice instead of my 
fingers being hard at work. 

My greatest pleasure, and doubtless greatest 
advantage, was the Sunday choir singing ; I had 
to stand on a bench to sing from the desk, and 
soon I knew Mozart's and Haydn's Masses and 
Vesper Motets by heart. 

One Easter Sunday an extra selection had 
been rehearsed, among which Haydn's 2nd — or 
Joseph II.'s — Mass, Hy . . . [undecipherable] 
grand solo, Mozart's Agnus Dei, and other favourite 
show solos, when, alas ! Miss Hill, my kind friend, 
and the principal soprano, fell ill. Mr. J. Robinson, 
in rage and despair, strode up and down, speaking 
aloud: "Who can sing all these? At the last 
moment it is impossible to change the music. . . . 
What is to be done ? " I went up to him and said 
" I can sing them all." He laughed at my ignorant 
assumption, but — San Marco ! * Thus I sang all 
the solos, and evidently, for " half-past seven," as 

* Italian phrase for "There's no choice." 

38 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

I styled my age, acquitted myself sufficiently to 
earn a coral necklace, my first one, a gift from 
Mr. J. Robinson, which he took me next day to 
buy, to my wonder and delight. 

This was not the first time that Clara came to the 
rescue, vocally, of Miss Hill, whose best days in singing 
were over ; more than once, when the musical phrase 
reached notes beyond the compass of Miss Hill's voice, 
she would tell Clara to join in the singing, and when 
the arduous phrase was reached, leave her to perform it 

I led a lonely life, though Miss Hill tried to 
make it as cheerful for me as she could ; I used 
to skip with a rope most days in the courtyard, 
and often watch the cook making bread and 
raised pies — a great entertainment. Once Miss 
Hill made me a pink silk frock, which seemed 
to me the most beautiful thing ever created, and 
great was my joy when I put it on for the first 
time ; but alas ! that same day I upset my plate 
of pudding into my lap, and ever after had to 
wear it with a pinafore to hide its diminished 
glory. One summer, we went to farm-house 
lodgings in the wolds, and there indeed I revelled, 
riding the plough-horses, or the cows when taken 
to be milked, or milking them — a little ! — churn- 
ing butter, and washing it under the pump. 

In those days and for long after, it was the habit for 
men and women to take snuff ; Miss Hill did so, all the 

Snuff- taking 39 

more that it was considered beneficial to singers, by 
keeping all the mucous canals very free. All children 
are imitative, and Clara, of course, wished to take snuff 
also. Miss Hill, either to indulge her, or thinking that, 
in a future singer, it was a desirable habit, would offer 
her snuff-box to the little girl, with a " Have a pinch, 
luve," and presently gave her a small box to herself. 
But, on her return home, the wise mother promptly con- 
fiscated it, drawing such a picture of the unpleasant 
adjuncts of snuff-taking as effectually to cure her daughter 
of any desire for it, even when later, in Italy, she 
found all singers addicted to it for its supposed beneficial 

Alfred Novello was in York when the Minster was 
set on fire by the religious fanatic Martin, and was among 
those who helped to put it out. Martin was heard to 
say, when the organ was pealing out its strains, " I'll 
stop thee boozzing ! " The " Life and Labours of 
V. NoveUo," makes mention how his copying out Purcell's 
four anthems, and the Evening Service in G minor, 
which were unique in the Minster Library, in the in- 
credibly short space of one day, enabled him, " when 
the original manuscripts were destroyed by the fire, to 
give a transcript of that music to the Minster Library, 
which would otherwise have been lost to the world." 


When I was about ten years old, I heard 
Catalani sing Luther's Hymn, at the Festival in 

40 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

the Cathedral. I then madly thought — and per- 
haps said — that her much-talked-of C in alt, at 
the end of the hymn, was less easy than my own ! ! 

Soon after I returned to London — to Great 
Queen Street, I think — where M. Fetis and his 
sweet wife came to see my parents. I, sitting 
on my usual square footstool, a doll in my arms, 
was suddenly told to sing Dr. Arne's "The Soldier 
tired," which goes up to D, also Mozart's " Agnus 
Dei." Later I learned that M. Fetis had recom- 
mended my trying for admittance to Choron's 
Academic in Paris, subventioned by the private 
purse of Charles X. 

During the summer, I was taken to Paris, 
arriving too late for the concours for two vacant 
places at Choron's. My father thought it might 
help to lessen the difficulty of admission for an 
English pupil if I were heard by Rossini, one 
of the umpires, and by Choron himself, so, in my 
short-sleeved dress, with music-book under my 
arm, I was walked to Rue Vaugirard, there sang 
"Soldier tired," and "Agnus Dei," before Choron, 
the masters of "canto fino" and harmony, 
Ferdinand Hiller, and others. Dear old Choron at 
once wrote to the Minister Dupin, and to de la 
Rochefoucauld, saying I merited admission with- 
out concours. 

Rossini was at breakfast when we went to 
see him, and his enchanting sweetness won my 
heart at first sight, awed though I was; he. 

Study in Paris 41 

being one of the umpires, decided in my favour 

Thus I at once entered Rue de Bayeux, as 
sixth of the pensionnaires, under Mme. Tardieu, 
directress, and Mme. Fanny, the EngUsh under-mis- 
tress. The latter accompanied the six of us to Rue 
Vaugirard, from 9 till 12, and 2 to 5 for the lessons. 
We rose at 6, made our beds, dressed and studied 
till 8 ; breakfasted on soup, bread, with cheese 
or fruit; walked to school; 9 to 11 " canto fino," 
under M. Boulanger, then "classe a vue " under 
M. Ditsch till 12, and home to our second break- 
fast, or lunch — a solid one dish, with wine and 
water. About i, practice ; at 2 walked to school 
for class of separate voices, and chorus practice ; 
3 to 5 "la grande classe," under personal direction 
of dear old enthusiastic Choron, with red ribbon 
in his green "redingote " and cap on head, which, 
on the least of his frequent rages, he would push 
on the back of his bald head ! 

This " grande classe " was held in a pretty little 
theatre, the part destined for the audience and the 
Royal box being empty. Some rare times, when 
Choron had picked up a stray child in the streets, 
it was made to assist, in solitary glory, at the 
"grande classe" from the pit. I have often 
thought Mme. Rachel must have been one of 
the two tinies I once saw sitting there, in lone 
embarrassment, doubtless much bored. 

Every year one or two concerts were given 

42 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

to exhibit our progress, and to these came the 
Duchesses d'Angouleme and de Berry and two 
ministers. At one of these concerts I remember 
singing Clari's duett "Cantando un di," and made 
to stand on a stool, to my infinite mortification, 
after which I was taken to be kissed by these two 
very ugly princesses. 

Clara Novello always regretted not having known, 
at the time, that the d'Angouleme was daughter of 
Louis XVI. ; she would have looked at her with very 
different eyes from those that saw only a " very ugly 

At the house of a rich lady, where I was taken 
to sing in an opera composed by her, I saw in 
the audience Mme. Pisaroni, considered so plain 
that she used to send her portrait as a warning 
to managers, previously to signing contracts for 
the stage. But I thought her charming in 
appearance ; she kissed me, and the lovely 
Sontag, who was there, caressed me also. The 
composer Paer was an intimate friend of Mme. 
Tardieu, and I saw him more than once. 

But the little girl was not happy in Paris ; perhaps 
because she was a native of the -per fide Albion or 
perhaps because of her exceeding youth, which may have 
jarred unconsciously on her companions — the youngest 
of whom was eighteen — as lowering their abilities to those 
of a child of twelve, as a fact they one and all flouted la 
petite Anglaise, excluded her from their talk and recrea- 
tion, and made her feel emphatically that she was alone. 

The Revolution 43 

On grand occasions the costume de rigucur for the 
clhjes, was a black silk dress. Mrs. Novello learnt this 
in Paris, too late to provide one herself for her little 
girl, so she left a very liberal sum with the caretaker 
for this purpose ; but the woman thought that a cotton 
one would do very well for little Clara, and the surplus 
money do better in her own pocket, and the child had 
to endure the constantly renewed mortification — not a 
slight one at that age — of being jeered at by her com- 
panions for the shabbiness of her attire and for her 
parent's stinginess. 

I remember Prudence Tardieu calling me 
one day with a " tiens, petite, smell that; you 
will like it," and putting under my nose a small 
tin of tea. The scent brought such a rush of home 
associations that I burst into tears. The acute- 
ness of my sense of smell has often occasioned 
me trouble ; in later years a large bunch of tea- 
roses so swelled the glands in my throat that I 
was three days ill in bed, and ever after their 
perfume would cause nausea and headache. 

When the Revolution broke out, terror invaded 
our school — naturally, being a Royal institution — 
and I nearly went mad with the fright I endured. 
The elder girls, the youngest of whom was eigh- 
teen, knew, of course, what I did not, the horrors 
that might be awaiting us. News reached us, 
occasionally, through one or other of Mme. 
Tardieu's two sons. Excited by what was said 
around us, we ventured on the third day, when 

44 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

revolt was supposed to be over, to look out of 
a front room window, and we saw three men, 
with strips of shirt only on their shoulders, 
and torn and bloody trousers, rush into our house. 
The terrified pensionnaires fled, to hide under 
mattresses and elsewhere ; I, excluded cruelly, 
was left alone in an inner room. I climbed on 
to a window seat, one leg over the resting-bar, 
listening and watching for the door to open and 
admit the bloody men, when I meant to precipi- 
tate myself headlong into the garden below — ours 
being the second floor over the entresol. Often 
have I thought since, that had any one entered, I 
should have done the same, and either died or, 
worse, been crippled for life. When, very soon 
after, kind Mr. Charles Humann took me away 
to his house, I slept for three days and three 
nights consecutively ; his English wife, my 
mother's schoolfellow, sent for a doctor, who 
said that such sleep would save brain illness, and 
forbad my being awakened, even for nourish- 
ment. A little broth was poured down my throat 
now and then; but all this I learnt later, for I 
knew nothing at the time, being in a sort of 

I returned presently to Rue de Bayeux, 
where I saw, more than once, the new king, Louis 
Philippe, pass, with Lafayette riding by his side, 
infinitely more important to all, evidently, than 
his puppet king, whose respectable family life 

Home Again 45 

lowered him in the eyes of the Parisians, from 
the old Royal standard of vices ! 

Louis Philippe, with true Orleans avarice, 
reduced the subvention to Choron's Academy to 
so inadequate a sum that my parents thought 
fit to remove me from it, and I returned to London, 
in Frith Street. Here I led a fearfully lonely life ; 
my sisters, Emma and Sabilla were at Bruges, 
in a convent ; my elder sister, Mrs. Cowden 
Clarke, and her husband were all day busy — she 
over her Concordance, and Cecilia at Mrs. Blaine 
Hunt's. Only at dinner, and not always at 
breakfast, we sat down a large party, after which, 
all again separated for their various occupations. 
When my father had time, he made me sing, 
Mozart's operas chiefly. 


The first opera I remember hearing was 
Weber's " Freischiitz," when the composer was 
writing " Oberon.'' But what then, and ever since, 
struck me as quite beyond and separate from all 
and anything else, was hearing and seeing Paganini ! 
Haggard — he seemed a ghost — in his hand his 
violin, his " Imp," with which he executed marvels 
that seemed part of these two superhuman beings ; 
nothing seemed impossible to them, and when he 
took out a pair of scissors, cut three strings which 

46 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

hung down, and on the remaining string proceeded 
to play his "Witches' Dance," one seemed to see 
the Hghts burn blue ! I felt to love and pity 
some poor demon condemned thus to perform 
these marvels to mortals, to excite, bewitch and 
trouble their rest evermore ! 

These musical and other treats I owed to my 
best-loved friend, Charles Cowden Clarke. He 
would say he had known me before I was born ; 
and so he had, living as he did years in our house 
before he married my sister, eldest of us all. 
Squatting on a stool, with slate on my lap, whilst 
he shaved, I was taught my sums by him ; or, 
sitting on his knees after " tub " in nightgown 
and flannel, waiting to be carried up to bed, 
listening to his stories, invented or recalled — these 
moments were bliss absolute, never forgotten 
through life. His nature was sublime in its 
simplicity, and so absolutely without rancour; it 
was hardly a merit in him never to feel bitter, 
however ill-used. He could not forgive because 
he never felt injured ; nay, on expressing my 
indignation at ingratitude reaped in return of 
benefits conferred by him, he would extenuate 
such behaviour. This exquisite Christianity of 
heart and mind doubtless helped to keep him 
young to his nearly ninety years, the loved of 
all, most by those who knew him best. He taught 
me, as later he taught my children, to love Chaucer, 
Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, and other stars, 

First Appearance 47 

who raise iis above earth. He would read to us 
his beautiful lectures, to time himself not to 
exceed the one hour promised to audiences — a 
mark of respect too often neglected by lecturers 
and public speakers. Brevity is the soul not only 
of wit, but of many other things. I have always 
enjoyed intensely performances in all the arts, 
thus given to myself alone — or to very few besides. 
Inspiration is shy, and listeners must be known 
and felt to be in perfect unison of soul with the 
performer, to the extent of having their presence 
partially ignored by him. Then, only, does the 
soul come out and fully expand. 

When thirteen years old, chance made me 
sing in public for the first time. Mrs. Anderson, 
pianist, and Mr. Vaughan, the celebrated tenor, 
got up a musical performance in the tiny theatre 
at Windsor for the benefit of the composer 
Horn's widow. As no soprano could be found, my 
father proposed, as a stop-gap, his little girl, just 
back from Paris, to sing Spohr's duett from " The 
Last Judgment," with Mr. Vaughan, and Martini's 
French romance *' Plaisir d'amour." And so it 
was arranged, my father accompanying on the 

This, my first appearance in public, was 
attended by a rather sensational incident. As 
I was about to go on the stage to sing, dear 
practical Tom Welsh, Kitty Stevens' cele- 
brated master, asked me, " Do you know how 

48 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

to make a curtsey ? " On my replying " No," he 
then and there taught me what, ever after, was 
considered one of my accomphshments and pre- 
possessed the pubhc. During this curtsey lesson, 
the flooring of a private box, in which sat my 
mother and others, over the side door by which 
the performers entered the stage, gave way 
suddenly just above me, covering me with dust, 
and frightening me terribly, so that experienced 
Tom Welsh, telling me no harm had happened, 
hurried me out, profiting by this fright to obviate 
the fright of first facing the public; and, indeed, 
I was so preoccupied by this event that I felt 
nothing about the pubHc. I had a bad whitlow 
on each thumb, which prevented my getting my 
gloves entirely on, and this, to my childish folly, 
was quite a disgrace, and preoccupied me also 

From this time forth I attended " The Choral 
Harmonists " and several other music meetings 
of my father's creating and under his personal 
direction, besides endless private musical gather- 
ings. Some rare times my father would take me 
to the opera, by favour of some friend in the 
orchestra ; thus I heard Gazza Ladra, I Puritani, 
Marino Faliero, Matrimonio Segreto, with Grisi, 
Rubini, Malibran, Tamburini, Lablache — the latter 
as actor, whether comic or tragic, quite as great 
as singer. Once, to keep me awake whilst waiting 
in the green-room, he enacted a tempest ; sitting 

Lablache 49 

down, he placed two lighted candles on each side 
of his glorious face, and accompanying the play 
of the face with a few rare words, he let his face 
grow dark. " Now a flash of lightning " — his 
eyes positively emitting one — his face grew more 
and more sombre, till, the storm at its height, 
his face was absolutely terrific ; then gradually 
the storm abated, the clouds dispersed, and 
sunshine returned. So magnificent a piece of face- 
acting I never witnessed and shall never forget. 

My mother never allowed me to touch a 
morsel at the suppers which followed evening 
entertainments, as she thought that the rich food 
usual on such occasions would be unwholesome 
for me. Once at home, if hungry, I might eat 
plain bread as much as I liked ; and later she 
repeatedly put me on my guard against the 
habit of fashionable "drops" — lavender julep 
and the like — as so many genteel names to hide 
vicious indulgence in spirits. "If you feel you 
really need a fillip," she would say, " order a 
good stiff glass of grog by that name, and it will 
do you no harm, once in a way ; but you will 
probably feel ashamed to order such a thing, 
and do without it, which will be still better ! " 
I think I owe to this extreme sobriety in eating 
and drinking the exceptionally fine health I have 
always enjoyed. 

Through my father's influence I was engaged 
to sing for the entire series of Ancient Concerts, 


50 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

where I heard all that was best, both as to music 
and its performers, and where I had occasion 
to show what I could do, often singing at sight 
pieces which otherwise would have been omitted 
from sudden absences of the other sopranos. 
This ingratiated me with the public as being 
reliable, and also with the elders in the orchestra, 
almost all friends of my father — Dragonetti, 
Lindley, Willman, Harper, etc. — and with the 
directors, whose momentary embarrassment I 
thus relieved. Lord Burghersh I knew well 
personally, seeing him often at our house.* 

I sang once in an opera composed by the 
seven-year-old (?) son of Sir Gore Ouseley, an 
infant prodigy, become since Professor at Oxford. 
Also I was called by the Duchess of Kent to sing 
before her and the Princess Victoria, about my 
own age. When I heard Kitty Stevens — later 
Countess of Essex — at Sir George Smart's, I made 
her conquest for ever at first sight, for on her 
singing " Auld Robin Gray," I burst into such 
uncontrollable weeping, I had to be taken out 
of the room to have my face washed, and be 
slowly calmed down ! 

Clara Novello's simple composure in public was 
remarkable, the result probably of entire absence of 
self-consciousness. Her eldest sister has told how once, 
during rehearsal at the Ancient Concerts, the conductor 
would not take the accompaniment to one of her songs 
* Lord Burghersh was director in 1832. 

Paris 5 1 

according to her wishes. After repeated recommence- 
ments, he said, sarcastically, " Since my time doesn't 
suit you, perhaps you had better give it yourself to the 
orchestra ! " But sarcasm is generally lost on the very 
young, who accept the meaning of words literally, so 
Clara answered simply, " Well, perhaps it will be the best 
way," and rolling up her music to serve as baton, turned 
to the orchestra with a " If these gentlemen, then, will 
kindly take their time from me," proceeded to conduct 
her own accompaniment, to their infinite amusement and 
approbation, and equal discomfiture of the conductor, 
who had no resource but to acquiesce. 


When I was about sixteen, my mother and I 
went to Paris, where I was to give a concert. 
There I met Kalkbrenner, and renewed acquaint- 
ance with Ferdinand Hiller, who had been pro- 
fessor of harmony at Choron's when I, being too 
young for such abstruse lessons, used to learn 
my catechism instead during the hour allotted 
for harmony, and he used to teaze me. His 
mother, a dear old lady from Frankfort, had 
set up house in Paris ; there we often went, and 
once met Thalberg, just from Vienna and un- 
decided whether to become professional or not. 
But my idol was Chopin, who came often, and 
would only play, said he, if la petite Clara would 
recite " Peter Piper picked." . . . How proud I 

^2 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

felt ! how I worshipped him, himself, as I have 
done ever since ! I remember waltzing to his 
and Thalberg's playing — excusez du pen I 

All these delights were abruptly cut short by 
a terrible event. Our beloved Edward, so won- 
derfully promising a young painter, had been 
sent, two years previously, to Paris, at twenty- 
one years of age, to study in the Louvre ; fired 
and enchanted by all those art treasures, he worked 
and overworked, and one bitterly cold night, 
leaving the heated studio where he was studying 
from the nude, he took violent cold and broke 
a blood-vessel. Returned home to England, 
and forced — too late ! — to take medical advice, 
he was put under a starving regime — he a giant 
in strength, and of active habits ! — and this 
mistaken treatment killed him in two years. 
His dying state, evident to all, was hidden abso- 
lutely from my sanguine mother's sight, in proof 
of which she did not hesitate to leave him — in 
Hastings, whither he had been taken to benefit 
by the sea air — and herself arranged the trip to 
Paris, which was carried out. 

Calling there, one day, on Mrs. Humann, we 
found her in tears refusing to tell us the cause, 
unable to so do, it appeared, the more my unsus- 
picious mother tried to comfort her. She kept 
repeating, " Have you not seen my husband ? 
He will tell you; I cannot." At last Mr. Humann 
appeared, and with great difficulty and tenderness 

Edward Novcllo 53 

succeeded in breaking to my mother that she 
was the one needing to be comforted and 
sustained. When she did at last comprehend 
that her son Edward was dead, her state was such 
that I feared she would die in my arms during 
the following night. It was decided we should 
leave Paris by " dihgence," next day, and did 
so. How I managed all the preparations, young 
as I was, I know not ; but kind friends helped 
me. Once in England, my mother had to keep 
her bed ; and when she rose from it, nearly six 
months later, her hair was white ! 

The death of this gifted and beloved brother at the 
early age of twenty-four, was a grief so profound it never 
really healed, and the survivors, to their latest age, 
never spoke of " dear Edward," save in loving tones 
of the deepest regret. Besides the love felt for this 
sweet-tempered, joyous young fellow, his great promise 
as a painter had led all his family to look to him for 
shedding lustre on their name, as doubtless would have 
been the case had he lived. His fellow-students, many 
of whom ranked later among England's chief painters, 
used to say, when a competition was approaching : " If 
Novello is to compete, no use our trying, he is sure to 
win ! " And he always did, carrying off, for three years 
successively, the first prize at the Royal Academy. His 
nephew, who possesses copies made by him of a Rubens 
and a Rembrandt, was complimented by the artist 
entrusted to revarnish them on the possession of such 
" fine examples of those great masters ! " 

The young painter had a great predilection for his 

54 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

little sister, the singing-bird, and he sketched and painted 
her with endless variety — in a group with the mother ; 
in a sailor suit, entitled by him, " A squall at C ! (sea) ; " 
and finally in the beautiful portrait, life-size. Like all 
the others, he had a fine voice and sang charmingly. 

I was, from the first, engaged to sing at all 
the autumn festivals, Worcester, Gloucester, Here- 
ford, and elsewhere. In these I often met and 
sang with that artistic meteor, Malibran,* whose 
like, all in all, will never again be seen. Inimitable 
whether as singer or actress, comic or tragic, a 
thorough musician, composer, pianist and violinist. 
As for her singing — in a voice, the mere sound of 
which caused emotional tears — a single phrase, 
one word, in certain moments, sufficed to bring 
an audience to raptures of enthusiasm all over 
Europe and America, in all places and climes. 
She spoke five or six languages equally well, 
drew caricatures admirably — she gave me some 
— danced the tarantella like a native. What 
could she not do ? Impetuous to frenzy she was 
generous in the extreme. Once she took cold, 
which prevented her, at the last moment, singing 
Sonnambula — in English — at Drury Lane, when 
crowds already filled the house, hours before the 
time of performance. On the manager telling 
her, in despair, that besides loss of money these 
disappointed people would be dangerous, she said, 

* In the " Life and Labours," an account is given of a musical soiree 
at the Novellos', where Malibran sang and Mendelssohn played— both 
well acquainted with the NovlHo family. 

Malibran 5 5 

" I can't speak above my breath ; I should have to 
do it in dumb show ! " Bunn at once caught 
at this outburst as if seriously meant, and on his 
knees begged her to try this; and she, fired by 
the novelty, did so. The grateful public raved 
in praise of this surprising tour de force, and the 
sensation it made filled the papers. So Bunn 
had the unlucky impudence to beg her repeat 
this marvel, to satisfy curiosity, and she, all 
impulse, hurled at his head, for all answer, some 
music - books she held — offended, as an artist, 
to be asked to join in a low charlatanerie, for 

Another time, the violinist not playing an 
obbligato to her taste, after several repetitions he 
said something about attending to her own part 
and not interfering with his. The passage could 
not be played in the way she said. " You cannot 
play it!" she retorted; and, snatching the violin 
from his hand, played herself the passage as she 
wished it. One of her queer whims was to dress 
like a man. I saw her arrive thus once in Man- 
chester, from London, to a rehearsal, a long 
Spanish cloak over her man's attire and a travel- 
ling cap on her head. All these odd ways were 
never criticised, even in prim England, they 
being considered only part and parcel of this 
gifted, bewildering being. 

I sang Marcello's duett, " Qual anelante," 
with her more than once, at the Westminster 

56 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Abbey Festival and elsewhere ; she would hold 
one's hand, and by pressure give the starting 
signs, to ensure ensemble, delighted if quickly 
understood. She gave me one day a pair of 
large silver pins, such as are worn by the Lombard 
peasant women, saying she thought my mother 
dressed me almost too simply, when in public^ 
and taking out the pins from her own hair, put 
them herself into mine. 


At the Manchester Festival, alas ! she sang 
her last, and by sheer force of will, suffering agonies. 
My mother warmed her stony feet in her lap 
between songs, she confessing to a fall from 
horseback during the London season, when she 
was expecting to become a mother, and con- 
cealing it from her husband, de Beriot. A 
violent fit of convulsions seized her one morning 
in church before she could enter the orchestra ; 
four strong men were unable to hold her — she 
raised her body above them, on twisted arms like 
a table ! My mother nursed her in bed till the very 
end, she having no maid even. Thus at twenty- 
eight years died this lovable, gifted creature. 

Malibran was to have sung at the Worcester 
Festival the week succeeding ; to supply one of 
her pieces, I was requested to sing, ''With verdure 

Mrs. Wyndham Lewis 57 

clad," from Haydn's Creation. No orchestral parts 
being to the fore, the whole of the London orchestra 
there played and I sang — all of us by heart. 

On Malibran's death it became known that 
I possessed a lock of her hair — unique reward, 
given to my mother. Mrs. Wyndham Lewis, 
later Lady Beaconsfield, a collector of curiosities, 
called on me to beg a few hairs, which I gave, to 
please a very dear mutual friend. After this, 
she took quite an affection for me, and often asked 
me to her splendid house at Hyde Park Corner. 
Many a time, after a dinner where one met 
endless celebrities, she would take me, then a 
young girl, to her bedroom, and show me her 
collections. Two large cabinet pillars stood on 
either side of her toilet-table, full of valuable 
jewels, given to her by her old husband, and 
beneath these jewels she kept her curiosities — 
pieces of the cords which had hung notorious 
criminals, and such like. My horror amused her 

She was clever and elegant, not beautiful, 
and after dinner, whilst visitors arrived, she 
would sit with a high footstool before her, upon 
which she displayed and called attention to her 
tiny foot, of which she was proud, and which 
was always shod in black satin slipper and open- 
worked silk stocking, both embroidered in coloured 
flowers ; on her head ever the wide-brimmed, 
so-called opera hat, very becoming. 

58 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Old Mr. Wyndham Lewis might have been 
her father ; very rich, but less so than an elder 
sickly brother who disapproved the marriage. To 
conciliate him an absurdly small sum, relatively, 
was settled on the girl in case of widowhood. 
But instead of the sickly elder brother dying, 
he outlived his younger married brother, in- 
heriting his whole fortune, except £5000 a year, 
settled on Mrs. W. Lewis. When she married 
Disraeli, she closed her town house, sold most 
of her jewels, and by economizing as much as 
was possible, was able to buy, in his name, 
Hughenden Manor, thus giving him the necessary 
basis for the high position he sought and obtained. 
Well and truly to the letter might he say to 
Queen Victoria, on accepting for his wife the 
title he declined then for himself, that it was 
entirel}^ to her he owed his position. 

Disraeli was ever in the house at Hyde Park 
Corner, got up as if purposely to look like a cari- 
cature — long black ringlets and attitudinizing 
always, as if sitting for a portrait. But he was 
most amiable always — never talkative, as if to 
economize his good things. The poetess signing 
herself L. E. L., was often there; her tragic early 
end in Africa has cast a melancholy over her 
name. There also I met Lady Arabella Stuart 
from Rome. 

My mother planned a prolonged tour of 
consecutive concerts, in which I was to sing, 

Scotch Songs 59 

all over England and Scotland, and was the first 
to introduce such tours. She arranged with 
local professors, who were to give these concerts, 
at very moderate terms, which included mostly 
our board and lodging in their own houses. This 
often brought about pleasant acquaintances and 
private pleasures to me. Thus, at Dundee, the 
brother of the concert-giver received us, and 
these superior, warm-hearted, stiff-mannered 
Scots, became soon real friends, driving us to 
all the sites and monuments of Burns celebrity 
and explaining them all most interestingly. Here 
I learnt to dance Highland reels, and heard this 
grave lawyer sing, Scotch-fashion, over his glass 
of toddy, a lovely song : " Oh, gin my luve were 
a preckle o' wheat," which, he told me proudly, 
he had caught from an itinerant musician, plying 
him with toddy till he had caught the whole 
song. Next morning I sang this song at him 
through the keyhole of his bedroom door — a 
little to his annoyance, I fear — and ever since it 
has remained, unwritten, one of my favourites. 

In Edinburgh we lived with Mrs. W. Sinclair, 
who taught me to sing Scotch songs in the national 
as distinguished from the professional style ; 
this procured me in Scotland a compliment I 
much appreciated, and which I repeated to her — 
" The lassie sings as though she were born on the 
right side of the Tweed ! " England being on the 
wrong side ! 

6o Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

The first Continental trip I remember making 
was about 1836, I think, to accompany my sister 
Sabilla to Germany, where she was to teach Enghsh 
to the httle six-year-old girl of Baroness H., my 
mother's old friend, and be taught in return 
German by the old secretary. We landed at 
Rotterdam and saw the grand novelty : a railway ! 
quite recently inaugurated in Belgium. It was 
not much to my taste, and ever since I've disliked 
it more ; depriving the luckless traveller of all 
and any liberty, lock-ups succeed each other, into 
which one is barked at by officials, organized con- 
fusion and scuffle inducing heart disease ; dead 
waits follow until it please tyrannical officials to 
start, long after the time appointed, on these 
dangerous steeplechases upon slippery rails ; 
pufhng engines whistling deafeningly and glaring 
lights bewilder the beladen passengers, huddled 
together into some compartment, where a sort of 
battle begins, between those shut in together, 
about seats, luggage, etc. — belligerents having 
come to a truce, examine each other ! . . . 

Railways have completely destroyed sociable 
neighbourly intercourse existing in my youth ; 
nowadays all aim at being transported to some 
distance from home, seeing nothing, learning 
nothing in the various towns they are whirled 
through, nor having time to visit relatives or 
friends they may have in any of these places. 
People save all they can to be enabled to go far. 

"St. Paul" 6 1 

instead of enjoying what they possess, mixing 
among their neighbours, and amusing themselves 
and each other economically at home, in dresses 
several years possessed and none the less becoming, 
as was the case at one time. Now, anxiety to 
appear takes the place of all real enjoyment, of 
clothes, of entertainments, be these called dinners, 
suppers, or banquets ! big names for make-believes 
which have replaced all beliefs. 

Arrived in Cologne, we travelled by Rhine boat, 
the which enchanted me then, and ever since. On 
board we found and knew Mrs. Jameson, delightful 
author of "Sacred and Legendary Art," also Wm. 
and Mary Howitt and their daughter Margaret, 
whom I met again years later, in Rome. 

In 1837 Mendelssohn's "St. Paul " was performed 
in Birmingham, for the opening of the enormous 
town-hall. The great organ was constructed under 
the direction of my father, who invented for it 
a new combination of stops, though his usual 
over-modesty prevented his merit in this being 
either published or remunerated ; he was, however, 
engaged to pla^^ on it for its inauguration ; but alas ! 
just before the festival he had a repetition of his 
former malady, melancholia, and to my mother's 
despair, refused to play on this new organ — one 
of his triumphs. I sang " Jerusalem," and learnt 
that it had been settled with Felix Mendelssohn 
that I should sing at the Gewardhaus concerts in 
Leipzig during all the coming winter. Such was 

62 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

my rapture and excitement that I do not believe I 
ate above a few mouthfuls for weeks after. It 
was hoped, also, that this change might cure my 
father, and my sister Emma was to accompan}?- 
my parents and myself, as she was thought to 
need rest and change after nursing our beloved 
Edward during his last months at Hastings. 


To Leipzig we four departed about November, 
and installed ourselves in lodgings opposite the 
Kiistner Hotel, where we took our meals. This 
German fashion of whole families taking their one 
o'clock meal in hotels, though obliging one to sally 
out in all weathers — and in a cold climate, too ! — 
has many advantages : economy, yet with good 
and plentiful food ; the custom socialises small 
towns, breaks the monotony of home labours, and 
induces attention to dress, of all of which advantages 
women are mostly deprived, while men enjoy 
luxuries at their clubs ! Here we sat next Prince 
Henry Reuss, a genial man, who, by writing to 
Weimar about us was the cause of our visiting, 
later, that famous little model Court — of which 
more anon. 

Dear Felix (Mendelssohn) had just married 
his lovely Cecile, who was kindly helpful to us 
many ways, shopping, etc. The amiable numerous 

The Kembles 63 

family Schunck — which has a branch at Manchester 
in commerce— received us quite Uke old friends, as 
did many others whose names I have forgotten 
but not their kindness. At Christmas parties 
were got up, with round games and even romps, 
of which Felix and Cecile were the most ardent 
promoters, joining in the sport with the most 
active. Cecile's sister, Julie, was staying with 
them, and married, later, the eldest son of Schunck. 

Charles Kemble and his daughter Adelaide 
came to Leipzig during our stay there. . . . One 
evening Felix gave a reception in C. Kemble's 
honour, when he read to us one of Shakespeare's 
plays, Adelaide K. lying her full length at his feet ; 
after which she sang. . . . 

I once saw Charles Kemble act Charles Sur- 
face, and again in " The Taming of the Shrew," 
and thought him the handsomest and manliest 
creature I had ever seen . . . then ! In quite 
another style, equally great if not more so, w^as 
Sheridan Knowles, whom I saw act his own fine 
play of "WilHam Tell," with Miss Helen* Tree, and 
Miss Poole as the lad shot at — an enchanting 
personification of this last part I have never seen 

At the concerts in Leipzig David was the 
principal violinist, and he and Felix performed 
the concerto written for him by the latter. For 
me Felix composed " As the hart pants." I was 

* Sic: for "Ellen". 

64 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

struck by the entire want of knowledge of Handel's 
music evident in Germany, the times, etc., quite 
mistaken even by such scholars as dear Felix ; he 
started " From mighty Kings " in such a slow 
majestic time that it sounded quite absurd, and 
I asked him how he thought I, or any one, could 
sing it at that rate ? 

Mendelssohn's letter, referring to Clara Novello in 
Leipzig and addressed to her brother, has been published 
before now, but comes in here too fitly to be suppressed. 

Leipzig, iSth November, 1837. 

My dear Sir, 

It is now a fortnight since your sister first 
appeared here in public, and directly after it I wanted 
to write to you and give you a full account of it, and only 
to-day I have leisure enough to do it. Excuse it ; but 
although it is late, and I may think that you heard already 
from other sides of all the details of her great success, I 
cannot help writing you also on the subject and before 
all I shout triumph, because you know that you were 
my enemy,* and that my opinion prevailed only with great 
difficulty (tellers included), and that it comes now out 
how well I knew my countrymen, how well they appreciate 
what is really good and beautiful, and what a service to 
all the lovers of music has been done by your sister's 
coming over to this country. I do not know whether 
she thinks the same of my opinion now, I am sometimes 
afraid she must find the place so very small and dull, 
and miss her splendid Philharmonic band and aU those 
marchionesses and duchesses and lady patronesses who 
look so beautifully aristocratically in your concert-rooms, 
and of whom we have a great want. But if being really 
and heartUy liked and loved by a public and being looked 

* This allusion is to Alfred Novello's desire that his sister should 
proceed direct to Italy, and not visit Germany. 

Letter of Mendelssohn 65 

on as a most distinguished and eminent talent must also 
convey a feeling of pleasure to those who are the object 
of it, I am sure that your sister cannot repent her resolu- 
tion of accepting the invitation to this place, and must 
be glad to think of the delight she gave and the many 
friends she made in so short time and in a foreign country. 
Indeed, I never heard such an unanimous expression of 
delight as after her first recitative, and it was a pleasure 
to see people at once agreeing and the difference of opinion 
(which must always prevail) consisting only in the more 
or less praise to be bestowed on her. It was capital that 
not one hand's applause received her when she first 
appeared to sing " Non piu di fiori," because the triumph 
after the recitative was the greater ; the room rang of 
applause, and after it there was such a noise of conversation, 
people expressing their delight to each other, that not 
a note of the whole ritornelle could be heard ; then silence 
was again restored, and after the air, which she really 
sang better and with more expression than I ever heard 
from her, my good Leipzig public became like mad, and 
made a most tremendous noise. Since that moment she 
was the declared favourite of them, they are equally 
delighted with her clear and youthful voice and with the 
purity and good taste with which she sings everything. 
The Polacca of the " Puritani" was encored, which is a rare 
thing in our concerts here, and I am quite sure the longer 
she stays and the more she is heard, the more she will 
become a favourite, because she possesses just those two 
qualities of which the public is particularly fond here, 
purity of intonation and a thoroughbred musical feeling. 
I must also add that I never heard to greater advantage 
than at these two concerts, and that I liked her singing 
infinitely better than I ever did before ; whether it might 
be that the smaller room suits her better, or perhaps the 
foreign air, or whether it is that I am partial to everything 
in this country (which is also not unlikely), but I really 
think her much superior to what I have heard her before. 
And therefore I am once more glad that I have conquered 
you, my enemy. . . . And how is music going on in 
England ? Or had you no time, now, to think of any- 
thing else than the Guildhall puddings and pies and the 


66 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

two hundred pineapples which the Queen ate there, as a 
French paper has it. If you see Mr. Attwood, will you 
tell him my best compliments and wishes and that a very 
great cause of regret to me is my not having been able to 
meet him at my last stay in England. 

And now the paper is over and consequently the 
letter also. Excuse its style, which is probably very 
German. My kindest regards to Mr. and Mrs. Clarke, 
and my best thanks for his kind letter and the papers 
he sent me by Mrs. Novello. And now good-bye, and be 
as well and happy as I always wish you to be. 

Very truly yours, 

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. 

Mendelssohn wrote also to Sterndale Bennett, nth 
November, 1837 : " Clara Novello is creating a tremendous 
furore. The public is quite beside itself when she sings 
with such perfect intonation, such ease and such reliable 
musicianship. Half Leipzig is in love with her. The people 
clap her wildly, and the other night they even shouted 
' Da capo,' until she had to come and sing again. This is 
quite an exception with us Leipzig folk " (" The Life of 
Sterndale Bennett," by his son). And Schumann, in his 
" Music and Musicians," essays and criticisms, says, "Clara 
Novello was the most interesting of these (artists). She 
came to us from her friendly London circle, heralded as 
an artist of the first rank, and this weighed with us in 
Leipzig. For years I have heard nothing that has pleased 
me more than this voice, predominating over all other 
tones, yet breathing tender euphony, every tone as sharply 
defined as the tones of a keyed instrument ; besides the 
noble performance, the simplicity yet art which seemed 
to desire prominence for the composer and his work only. 
She was most in her element with Handel amid whose 

Weimar 67 

works she has grown up and become great. People asked 
each other in astonishment : Is that Handel ? Did Handel 
write so ? Is it possible ? From such a performer the 
composer himself may learn ; when we hear such a 
performance we again feel respect for the executive 
artists, who give us caricatures so often, because they 
leave school too soon ; such art at once snaps asunder 
the stilts on which ordinary virtuosity strides and thinks 
it looks over our shoulders. IMiss Clara Novello is not a 
Malibran and not a Sontag, but she possesses her own 
highly original individuality, of which no one can deprive 

In Leipzig a German master was engaged to 
teach me his language, but his dull, slow method 
and the smell of his old pipe made German grammar 
insufferable. My mother, though daughter of a 
German, spoke not a word of that language, and 
out of deference to her, always present, I never 
attempted to learn it, parrot-fashion, from the 
Germans we associated with, as I managed to do, 
later in life, both with German and Spanish. Such 
knowledge as I managed to acquire during life, 
was ever picked up much as a goose does on a 
common ! 

From Leipzig my mother and I went to 
Weimar. The Grand-duchess, sister to Nicholas 
of Russia, very handsome still, though not as 
marvellously so as that grand creature with his 
eagle eyes and stately deportment, was a pupil of 
Hummel and quite a pianist. 

68 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

In this interesting small place I knew the 
daughter-in-law of Goethe, who showed us his 
house, his bedroom, the gold laurel crown with 
its emerald berries, presented to him by the town 
of Frankfort, Byron's works in a silk handkerchief, 
as given to Goethe by Byron himself, etc. 

The Senckendorfs, Court functionaries, and 
related by marriage to my mother's old friends, 
the Heldorfs, were most kind to us, pooh-poohed 
Leipzig as a commercial, inartistic town, and advised 
us on no account to leave Germany for Italy — 
whither it had been decided that I was to go and 
study for the stage — without first visiting Berlin 
and other capitals in Germany, providing us with 
useful and agreeable introductions. 

At Berlin, Paul, younger brother of Felix, 
his sister Fanny Hensel and a younger sister, all 
became, at once, intimate friends. Felix's mother 
was my ideal of a beneficent fairy ; I was awed 
by her, as she sat with her everlasting knitting, 
looking like one of the Fates, yet felt intimate at 
the same time. She gave me some yards of 
beautiful Alen^on lace, which had belonged to her 
father-in-law, the great philosopher Mendelssohn. 
This treasure I ceded to my mother for her lifetime, 
and only at her death received it back again. 

We made great friends, also, with the Beer 
family ; mother — most venerable — and brothers of 
Meyer Beer, their sweet wives and a widow Betty 
Beer, my favourite, and with the several brothers 

Berlin 69 

Magnus ; the youngest, Edward, celebrated 
painter, adorer of Italy, of music, and of everything 
artistic and delightful, painted my portrait in oils. 
The reigning king, who declined reigning, 
preferred living in his small palace, and was devoted 
to dancing and dancers. His amiable morganatic 
wife was a Princess Liegnitz. The real king was 
his eldest son, the Kronprinz Frederick William, 
afterwards king, the most artistic and delightful 
man, but with no gift for governing — as he gave 
evidence. His childless wife, Elizabeth, was a 
Bavarian princess, whose twin sister was married 
in Dresden to Prince, later King John of Saxony. 
The future Emperor of Germany was then only 
Prince Wilhelm, much given to sojourning in St. 
Petersburg, where his elder and only sister was 
the empress of Nicholas ; his wife, future Empress 
of Germany, was the Princess Augusta of Weimar, 
Princess Wilhelm, as she was called, then. Her 
elder sister had married the third prince, Karl, a 
merry fellow, who would pretend to blush behind 
a fan when I sang " Bonnie Prince Charlie ! " 
Among these fascinating people I soon became 
quite a pet, being called to sing constantly at 
their quiet, private, family evenings, when knitting- 
bags were brought out and chat between the music 
was usual. Supper followed these family musical 
evenings ; the royalties had theirs together in one 
room, whilst the several chamberlains, de Witz- 
leben, de Seuden, etc., the two de Humboldts, 

70 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Spontini, my mother and self had ours in an ad- 
joining room. Being a young and merry girl, I 
was not best pleased to be taken in to supper, 
on one of these occasions, by an elderly man, 
I should have preferred the livelier de Solms 
or Radziwill. But my mother said, " You silly 
girl, you will be very proud, one day, to have been 
on the arm of Alexander v. Humboldt ! " — and 
she explained to me then who and what he was. 

Dear old Spontini, then musical director at 
the Court, patronized me greatly in friendly 
fashion. His house was a gallery of portraits of 
himself, alternating with sonnets in his praise, 
busts of himself, etc., all the way to his own sort 
of throne room, where he sat on a raised dais in 
an armchair with his portraits, busts, medals, and 
sonnets all around him. After all, as long as 
admirers insist on presenting to artists such gifts, 
the recipient must either do like Spontini or else 
hide them ! which modesty might offend the givers. 
Once, a facetious and very poor old maestro said 
to me, " How often are studs in brilliants bestowed 
on shirtless artists ! " 

Among my many very kind friends in Berlin 
was our ambassador. Lord William Russell, brother 
to Lord John, both celebrated for taciturnity. Of 
this Lord William gave a droll specimen on first 
visiting us. Knocking at our door in our Hotel de 
Russie, " unter den Linden," he put in his head, in- 
quiring, * ' Novello ? ' ' Being answered affirmatively. 

Berlin 71 

he entered, adding only, " Russell ! " We be- 
came soon great friends, and he invited us con- 
stantly to his house, sending word sometimes that 
I must come to dinner, because there was my 
favourite pudding ! I was considered by many to 
resemble Queen Victoria in face, which led Lord 
William to show me gravely, one day, one of the 
first gold pieces of her reign as my portrait compli- 
mentarily coined and presented to me ! — one of 
his quiet jokes. 

The Russian Minister, de Ribeaupierre, and 
his lovely daughter, Mme. de Koutouzoff, made 
their home like my own to me. I never heard of 
a higher and more refined honour than the one 
conferred by the Czar on General Koutouzoff after 
his victory ; the largest stone out of the Imperial 
crown was sent to him, and its place filled by a gold 
plaque, on which was engraved, *' Koutouzoff ! " 
What eloquence in one word I 

I used often to sing at the Opera between the 
acts, and heard there Gluck's " Armida" and other 
operas, sung by the blond beauty. Mile. Fassman, 
and the " Postilion de Longjumeau " by her rival — 
in all respects — the black-eyed Sophie Loewe, quite 
a different woman, never received in society, 
whereas Mile. Fassman went everywhere and was 
much esteemed. 

In Berlin I had a droll sample of German 
linguistic talent and self-assurance : an elderly 
literary man, having heard me sing "God save the 

72 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Queen," as I often did, called on me to offer his 
own new, and — as he considered — more appropriate 
words to that hymn, only one line of which, alas ! 
can I remember : " Oh, beauteous name which doth 
combine both Vig and Tory (Victoria!) ..." I had 
the fun of repeating this, years after, to Prince 
Albert, when, during the intervals of a State concert, 
he came to compliment the artists, and it so upset 
his Court gravity that his uncontrollable laughter 
attracted notice, and a messenger came to call 
him to tea — and order ! I fancy. 

I left Berlin with infinite regret, and have 
always retained my preference for its amiable off- 
hand Court over all the many others I visited 
afterwards, though it was then the fashion to 
sneer at it — from envy ! 

Dresden received me kindly, but to me it was 
never quite sympathetic, though of course I admire 
it. Here I met Weber's son, not like his poetic 
father in any respect, an official in some government 
office, tall, blond, and ordinary-looking. When I 
spoke of his illustrious father, and how greatly he 
was appreciated in England as a musician, he 
laughed rudely at the English, pronouncing them 
ignorant of music or art of any kind ; this to an 
English girl was true, heavy, German blundering, 
which I resented. 

Here I heard Mme. Schroeder-Devrient sing 
"Fidelio" with immense success, but her voice and 
her singing were, to me, distressingly German ; as 

Dresden 73 

a wit once said of another German prima donna, 
"She is all sauerkraut and not at all maccaroni ! " 

The Court received me often and most indul- 
gently, doubtless because of the letters I had 
brought from Berlin. The Queen, childless, was 
sister of the Crown Princess in Berlin, and of the 
Crown Princess John, later Queen of Saxony, 
mother to the Duchess of Genoa, and grandmother 
to our Queen Margherita of Italy. The then King 
was an agreeable musician and violinist, and his 
sister Amelia was authoress of many dramatic 
works which still keep the stage in German}^ 
This old lady always kissed me, poking her very 
pointed nose into my eyes, I vowed laughingly. 
These highly-gifted and cultivated royal personages, 
though most gracious, moved in an icy, stiff, dreary 
state which, after Berlin, wearied me. 

" When m}^ eldest son passed through Dresden 
more than fifty years later, he found in a cake-shop, 
in the Alt Markt, a large cake with my name in 
full inscribed on it in sugar ! What a sweet and 
constant remembrance of me, evidently of that 
period when, as a girl, I sang there. In 1857, 
my husband and I passed some few delightful days 
in Dresden, spending most evenings at the house 
of dear Professor Hiibner and his brother-in-law 
Bendemann ; the latter, suffering then in his eyes, 
always shaded them with a green fan, to hide from 
us, I used to tell him, his insatiable desire for 
unlimited singing. He gave me an engraving of 

74 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

his picture, in Berlin, on the words which Mendels- 
sohn set to music : *' Und halt ich dich in den 
Armen." . . . The mornings we passed in the 
Gallery, where I amused Hiibner, director there 
in '57, by showing him I remembered the former 
places of my favourite pictures, now changed. He 
told us of the daring feat accomplished on the 
grand Raphael, Madonna Sistina, become so 
dull in colouring, perhaps from time or the pro- 
cesses tried on it, that it was decided to give its 
back a layer of some peculiar varnish, to force 
back the sunken colours on to the front surface 
again. All night he and others kept anxious watch 
to see the effect next morning. 

From Dresden we went on to Prague, that 
most enchanting picturesque, medieval town ; 
there I knew Dessauer. 

From Prague we proceeded to Vienna, which 
proved very kind to me, and I stayed some weeks 
there, giving concerts myself, and singing at other 
ones in and out of the opera-house and at Court. 
The poor, idiotic, big-headed Ferdinand and his 
lovely, saintly, Italian empress, gave a State 
concert, in which I sang, and to which came the 
Archduchess Sophia, twin sister of the childless 
Queen of Saxony, with her two sons Francis 
Joseph, future Emperor, and Maximilian, future 
ill-starred Emperor of Mexico. In a private 
audience I had of the Archduchess Sophia, there 
was present a dear little three or four-year-old 

Vienna 75 

princess who delighted me, but caused infinite 
embarrassment to the others by insisting on kissing 
me several times, because — I was told — she took 
me for the Empress. 

A queer, charming, hideous, most kind friend 
was the Russian Ambassador Tatischeff. At his 
dinners, behind the chair of each guest stood a 
servant, and behind his own chair stood his two 
" coureurs," — amazing figures ! Only ambassadors 
had the privilege of keeping such, to run on each 
side of the state carriage on state occasions. 
Chosen tall, they wore on the head, to make them 
look still taller, a high fool's cap three-quarters 
of a yard high, with a stiff straight feather perched 
on one side and a metal plate in front ; a tight 
jacket reaching only to the waist, a fringed scarf 
around this, tied on one side, and tight leggings. 
To see a " canard " administered to Tatischeff at 
the end of dinner was a comical sight ; a grave 
servant placed a napkin round the ambassador's 
throat, a second held a spoon with a lump of 
sugar in it under his chin, a third poured a few 
drops of coffee on it, when No. II. emptied the 
spoon down his excellency's throat ! Nevertheless 
he was extremely clever, amusing and amiable. 

Prince Metternich and his young Hungarian 
wife were also most amiable to us. They invited 
us to dinner, where his little boy, in a red blouse, 
insisted on carrying to the guests the gold — or gilt 
— plates ; a queer freak. The Prince put me next 

76 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

to him, and was as fascinating to my youth as he 
knew how to be to the oldest and highest. During 
dinner he offered me wine, saying, " MademoiseUe, 
do you hke Johannisberg? " "Yes," I replied. 
" Yet you have never tasted it," he added, 
laughing. '* What I produce does not suffice for 
the gifts I wish to make to crowned heads and to 
others ! " He declared himself passionately fond 
of music. 

The celebrated beauty Princess Esterhazy, n(^e 
Thurn und Taxis, lovelier at forty than all the 
other women, was at Vienna then. It was said 
that when her husband was ambassador her beauty 
and charm so influenced all the men of the Court 
where he resided, that her Government received 
thereby unfair advantages over the governments of 
the other ambassadors, who therefore all requested 
that Prince Esterhazy — or at any rate the Princess ! 
— should be recalled. Her winning manners were 
even more lovely than her face and exquisite 
figure. One evening she invited my mother and 
me to the opera, sent her carriage to fetch us, and 
was in her box to receive us when we arrived. 
The performance over, she intimated that her 
carriage would take us home and then return for 
her, on which I burst out in youthful ignorance 
something about our not possibly allowing such a 
thing, and never shall I forget the way in which 
she merely held up her small hand, with a smiling, 
deprecating, "Mon enfant!" . . . which extinguished 

Clara Wieck 77 

me completely, and I followed my mother out of 
the box, quite abashed, to be driven home as she 
had decided. 

Old Prince Kinsky was in Vienna with his two 
lovely daughters, one of whom was said to be the 
most beautiful woman at Queen Victoria's corona- 
tion, where her husband represented Austria. 
Another Juno-like creature was Princess Lichten- 
stein, tall, dark, and stately. Some of these grand 
ladies ate curiously, twisting their fork the wrong 
way, and one of them brandished it about so 
animatedly, now to the right and now to the left, 
that the embarrassed footman behind her could 
not get at her plate to remove it, until she suddenly 
lifted the fork over her head, and scratching the 
back of her neck briskly with it, he was able to 
pounce on to the plate ! 

Here I knew sweet Clara Wieck and her dis- 
agreeable father. My mother used to say I had 
a dog's instinct about people, and that she would 
not care to trust any one I disliked. I have tried 
all my life not to act on the strength of these 
strong antipathies — too often justified, however. 

I was summoned to Court and most flatteringly 
received by the still remarkably handsome grand- 
looking Stephanie of Bedan, daughter of Josephine 
Beauharnais, and said to be the mother of Kaspar 
Hauser — ? Her daughter. Princess Vasa, was 
in Vienna then, and this unhappy mother was 
trying to reconcile and reunite the princess to her 

yS Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

worthless husband, who had run off with his 
wife's maid. 

During my stay in Vienna we were to have 
visited Pesth, and I ardently desired to do so, 
but frightful inundations prevented us ; many 
concerts were organised in aid of the unfortunates 
deprived of a roof, in all of which I sang. Musicians 
in all times and places contribute gratis to chari- 
table performances, besides their own poor ; 
musicians and doctors, for charity's sake, give 
their time and their abilities gratis. . . . 

About this time steamers were first introduced 
on the Danube, for passengers from Vienna to 
Pesth. Ten years previously, when my parents 
visited Mozart's sister — to whom my father took the 
sum of money collected by musicians in England, 
without which she would have died in a hospital — 
they travelled on the Danube on a log-raft, a 
small cabin having been constructed upon it for 
their accommodation. 

We left Vienna, taking letters to the Prior of 
the celebrated convent of Molk on the Danube — 
nearly opposite Coeur de Lion's prison tower ; the 
Prior entertained us most hospitably. Napoleon's 
state rooms — he had spent one or more nights 
here — were given to our party ; we dined at the 
same table with about sixty monks, and afterwards, 
in the Prior's private rooms, I was asked to sing. 
I chose sacred music ; but though much compli- 
mented by the Prior, I saw that he was disappointed. 

Munich 79 

I sang again, and at last, losing patience, he said, 
" But our brethren in Vienna write that you sing 
lovely operatic songs ! . . . This opened my eyes, 
and I sang " Sonnambula," "Torquato Tasso," and 
other cavatinas, to the great satisfaction of the 
Prior and of the other monks invited to listen. 

We proceeded to Munich, reaching it about 
May, and lodged with an English lady, a friend of 
my mother's. King Louis, at this time, was at work 
on most of the numerous edifices he raised in 
Munich, which, when finished, were to make it into a 
grand town. These strange solitary, heterogeneous 
buildings, starting up here and there, without any 
connection, some in swamps, others like the Post 
Ofhce, too dark to serve their intended purpose, 
and in man}'- ways incongruous and incomprehen- 
sible, caused him to be considered a mad expensive 
king. I was told of his placing a pair of pheasants 
in the pocket of his coat, to take as a gift to some 
of his beauties, and the tail feathers standing out 
behind him gave him a most comical aspect. He 
was amiable though eccentric — ostentatiously so. 

His step-mother — mother of the two pair of 
twins I had known in Berlin, Dresden and Vienna — 
was an elderl}^ imposing woman, historically famous 
for her tilts and fights with the great Napoleon. 

Munich itself wearied me, its climate was 
unpleasant, so it was with joy I left it for Italy at 
the end of May. 

At Trent a vetturino was engaged to take us 

8o Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

to Milan, and when he came to arrange terms, 
his splendidly handsome person and face, his 
voice and kingly deportment, impressed me greatly 
after the cruel ugliness of Germans. 

No words can express my rapture over the 
poetic splendour and beauty, entering Italy. I 
who ever had a real passion for nature ! she who 
lulls sorrow and enhances happiness, like the true 
mother she is ; the various voices of her trees, her 
exciting yet soothing varieties, who can enumerate 
their divine influences ? 

Arrived in Milan, the decisive step had to be 
taken as to which master I was to study under ; 
chance — as Providence is often called — favoured 
us. Going to the post office to inquire for letters, 
another person at the same time doing the same, 
proved to be kind Ferdinand Hiller. Consulted 
on the above important point, he entered with 
deep and friendly interest into the question, 
naming four, most noted then, as singing masters : 
Cav. Micheroux, Neapolitan ; Lamberti, Milanese ; 
Lambertini, and a fourth whose name I forget. 
" But," added he, " Rossini is now settled at 
Bologna ; why not consult him ? " On this, my 
prompt energetic mother decided it would be far 
better to go than to write, and away we went to 

Rossini was to us then, as he ever had been 
and continued to be, the kindest of the kind ; 
made me sing, experimented by pressing my throat 

Milan 8 1 

with his fingers, to test its resisting powers, 
inquired endless details, and ended by recom- 
mending Cav. Micheroux as infinitely superior to 
all the others, not only as teacher but as a perfect 
gentleman, quite above all interested tricks, usually 
practised on debutantes, to the pecuniary advan- 
tage of the maestro, through impresarios, journalists 
— the press gang ! ! — and such, who prey on 

To Milan we returned, installing ourselves, my 
mother and I, in two big rooms giving on to a 
court in Via de' due Muri, now no longer existing, 
as part of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele occupies 
its site, whilst my dear father and Emma returned 
to England. 

On taking Rossini's letter to Micheroux he 
seemed embarrassed, said the season was over, 
he regretted ; but he was soon leaving Milan for 
some watering-place, therefore lessons could only 
begin in autumn, on his return. But my mother 
replied that, having come all the way from England 
for these lessons, it was perfectly indifferent what 
part of Italy we stayed in to study ; so it was 
arranged that lessons should begin at once, we to 
travel with him to wherever he should decide to 
go, and lessons to continue. 

Then began a life queerly contrasting with the 
gay one led for so long, travelling, at Court, etc. 
At nine o'clock came an abbe, to teach me Italian ; 
then, accompanied by my mother and with books 


82 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

under arm, I went for my lesson to Micheroux, 
near La Scala. This dearly-beloved maestro, soon 
our fast and real friend, was son to the Neapolitan 
Minister for that Court to Venice, who, in some way 
I either never learnt or forgot, was so ruined that 
this son went to Paris to earn a living by giving 
lessons. Later, when Bellini began to compose, 
and showed signs of writing to please the screamers 
and their listeners. Pasta, to protest against this 
un-Italian style of music, opened the Teatro 
Carcano, together with Galli, bass, the young 
beginner Rubini, Brambilla, and a few brave 
followers, in opposition to the screamers at La 
Scala, and called the youngsters Bellini, Donizetti 
and others, to write, under their direction, in one 
or two seasons, such operas as " Pirata," " Anna 
Bolena," " Sonnambula," *' Norma " and others, 
Micheroux being " maestro concertatore al cem- 
balo." "Norma " was hissed for three nights run- 
ning by the party, or ** camorra," which in Milan 
existed long ; but at last " Norma " triumphed, 
and the noble Pasta was reinstated at La Scala, 
on her own terms ; thus she saved Italian music 
and musicians — for a time ! — from ruin. The next 
year Bellini wrote ** Beatrice di Tenda " for 
Venice ; but it was so hissed that, whilst singing 
the great duet between Beatrice and Filippo, Pasta 
stepped forward, and, with a grand significant 
gesture, addressed to the public the words, " Se 
amar non puoi, rispettami ! " ("If you cannot 

Padua 83 

love, respect me "). The immense applause to 
her which ensued allowed that exquisite opera to 
be heard to its end. 

When Micheroux decided to leave Milan, a 
vetturino started containing my mother and self, 
Micheroux, and his old maid-servant or " gouver- 
nante." Delightful advantages were the day and 
evening halts in Brescia and Bergamo to Padua. 
We visited the various art treasures contained in 
these as in almost every smallest town in blessed 

In Padua Micheroux dela3'ed some pleasant 
weeks before deciding on the baths of Battaglia, 
instead of Abano. He introduced us to Contessa 
Japelli, a sweet, high-born lady, slightly lame, wife 
of the architect Japelli, professor at the university, 
and just then much honoured as builder of the 
famous Caffe Pedrocchi. This lady received every 
evening, Italian fashion, without ceremony ; one 
silver oil-lamp with green silk shade on the round 
table, giving no heat and sufficient light to con- 
verse by ; once a week she had a reception, when 
there was plenty of light, etc. At these receptions 
any student who was able to sing — usually by 
ear only — "orecchiante," — was asked to do so, the 
bettermost singers to the accompaniment of the 
pianoforte, whilst all the other students assembled 
in the street below in crowds, forming audience, 
or the " platea " (pit), as theyst3ded it themselves. 
At the opera, Mme. Japelli's box was always at 

84 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

our service, whether she herself came, very late, 
or not at all ; and very soon, also, all my lessons 
were taken at her house. 

The climate of Padua and the extreme heat 
disabled ni}^ mother, and I was a good deal dis- 
turbed, the first days, to have to go out alone to 
the post-office for our letters, though wearing a 
thick black lace veil hanging over my poke bonnet, 
as the fashion was then. But when the students 
assembled there for the same purpose, all fell back 
in a row, making way for me to go first to the 
pigeon-hole, as " ITnglesina che canta," my 
greatest difficulty was to keep serious till I could 
reach home and make merry over it with my 

From out hotel windows on the piazza, opposite 
the university, I witnessed one day the solemn 
funeral of a young student. Laid out, in full dress, 
on the bier, he was borne by his companions on 
their shoulders, also in full dress, bareheaded and 
so handsome ! The procession stopped before the 
university, entered the portal, thrice raised and 
thrice lowered to the ground the bier, in salutation, 
then proceeded to the burial ground. 

Japelli, his friends, and ourselves went by kind 
invitation to spend one day at Count C.'s new 
villa, built in rather cockney fashion by Japelli, 
and considered a marvel. I sang in the grotto to 

* It was inadmissible in Italy at that time, and indeed up to 
quite lately, for any unmarried lady, even much older than Clara 
Novello, to walk out alone. 

La Battaglia 85 

my dear professors, and then we had lunch, when, 
on my mother's admiring some flowers on the table, 
our young host said, " Ah ! naturally ! you have 
no flowers in England ; it is impossible to grow any 
there, being too cold a climate ! " . . . ! ! 

We left Padua, much to my regret, for the 
baths of La Battaglia in the Euganean hills. Here 
we had a lodging in common — one room with a 
piano was common to Micheroux and ourselves and 
next his bedroom. For hours I practised and, 
often through the open door, while reposing after 
his bath, he would call out instructions and cor- 
rections ; later a long lesson, and most evenings 
again singing, reading operas new to me ; thus 
five hours' lesson per day. Besides which this 
elegantly-cultured gentleman gave me books to 
read — all Metastasio among others — and helped 
me to comprehend their beauties. We drove with 
him to Arqua, to Petrarch's tomb, whence some 
English vandal had robbed a finger bone ! to 
obtain which he had broken off a corner of the 
stone sarcophagus. Another drive was to a 
splendid villa left to the hated Duke of Modena 
by an infatuated self-made man on condition the 
duke would admit he was his relative ! Of course 
the duke instantly became his near and dear 
relative ... in Adam ! What struck me most 
in this villa was a tank or pond, with curtains 
which could be let down when a bath was desired 
in this open-air style. It reminded me of Susanna 

86 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

and the two elders, and was quite oriental and 
strikingly un-English. My mother would sit under 
the vines embroidering, while I strolled alone, as 
far as I dared, once into a villa led to from a vine- 
37ard by an immense straight staircase, some three 
or four hundred steps, it seemed to me ! 

When Micheroux's cure was completed, we 
went to Venice, to my rapture ! Here I revelled, 
in gondola, visiting endless art-galleries and 
churches, buying exquisite fruit for a few halfpence, 
from stacks of such in floating boats, or landing at 
any picturesque market for this purpose, followed 
by our gondolier with a basket. Micheroux 
pointed out to us the palace his father had resided 
in when Neapolitan ambassador. The evenings 
we spent floating about in the moonlight, feeling 
there was absolutely more moonlight in Venice 
than anywhere else in the world, or else w^andering 
to the Piazza San Marco, and sitting there till 
midnight as unmolested by crowds of all degrees 
as if sitting in our own drawing-room, listening to 
the never-failing singers — and what good singers ! 
— guitar players and such without end. One, a 
favourite tenor of ours, told us he was, by day, a 
shoemaker in Mestre, but made more by singing 
at night on the piazza. We used to walk home, 
alone, and were never once noticed, much less 

My mother shared my enthusiasm for Venice, 
and declared that there was heaven and there was 

La Scala 87 

earth, and that Venice was somewhere between 
the two, and to her I would say that an indis- 
pensable adjunct of Venice should be a lover with 
a guitar, to serenade one nightly below one's 
window ! 

This El3^sium lasted some ten or twelve days, 
then back to Milan by diligence, when prose life 
set in again, between two walls, alias " Via de' due 
Muri," at Campiotti's where the food was poor, 
and where we were nearly asphyxiated one evening 
by the fumes of charcoal from a brazier, brought 
in to warm us, the chimney being unavailable, 
because not swept by the landlord to save the 
expense. Here we lived, close prisoners, except 
for necessary walks to and from lessons, or to the 
opera, which Micheroux considered as necessary 
as lessons, to learn what to imitate and what to 

My mother and I first, and soon other students 
also, taking courage and example from us, occupied 
regularly, at La Scala, the first row of seats behind 
the stalls, which we secured by going as soon as 
the doors were opened, an hour before the opera 
commenced — spending that hour in reading. This 
we did rather than ascend to the fourth tier, 
dangerous to my mother on account of the many 
stairs, where heat was great, the expense infinitely 
higher than simple pit places, and where no view 
was to be obtained even in the front. This daring 
innovation on our part caused at first much and 

88 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

rather rude staring and comments, but by 
systematically ignoring it all. it ceased after a 

I was charmed with Verdi's first opera, ** Conte 
di San Bonifazio," with Sabia and Marini in 
" Ivanoe," with Cerito in " Silfide," and other 
lovely ballets, and with the great " mimo," Clisio 
Catte, my future master, in stage-walking and 
action. His attitudes and ballet action, all in 
dumb show, were most expressive. He was the 
master of Spohie Loewe and of all the rising 
young debutantes. His costumes were amazing ; 
he would appear at nine o'clock in the morning, 
to give me lessons, either at home or on La Scala 
stage, with a hat cocked all on one side, a coat of 
light green, pantaloons striped white and pink, a 
lemon-coloured waistcoat, coloured tie, light gloves, 
and shiny leather shoes on bright-coloured stock- 
ings ! But he was a true, earnest artist, revering 
his own line of art, and enduring once the pain of 
a dislocated shoulder on the stage — caused by one 
of his death-falls — rather than, by movement or 
cry, destroy the effect on the audience. 

The many letters of introduction we had 
brought with us to Milan were, by Rossini's 
advice, never delivered, to avoid distractions from 
study, and taking cold, etc. Thus we made few 

* At that time no ladies went even to the stalls, and if they 
ventured to do so — escorted by a gentleman, of course — they would 
dress so quietly as to avoid being observed. 

Heidelberg 89 

or no acquaintances, one of the few being Count 
Neipperg, one of Marie Louise's many children — 
amiable, curly-headed young German — and old 
Ricordi, always in his shop opposite La Scala, 
where I was abonnee for music. 

Towards spring my mother decided, for many 
family reasons, to return home, and I was to give 
concerts eii route at the many fashionable resorts 
on the Rhine, such as Wiesbaden, Coblenz, Mainz, 
Heidelberg, etc., as other artists did. In all these 
towns, at that time and till 1870, gambling went 
on all day and all night, in large splendid saloons, 
built for the purpose, and I have often admired — 
on thinking back — my mother's rare and admirable 
self-control in never allowing herself to be tempted 
to try her luck, of which she had received singular 
proofs, not only when, as a young girl, she won a 
large sum in one of the last lotteries permitted in 
England, but all through her life, in charity raffles 
in which she had taken tickets. 

I fell in love with exquisite romantic Heidelberg, 
and induced my mother to mount a donkey and 
be carried up to the castle and woods, repeating 
this equestrian feat night after night ; she, my 
eldest sister, Mrs. Cowden Clarke — who had joined 
us on the Rhine — and myself, would wander there 
for hours, listening to the myriads of loudly 
singing nightingales. Often, sitting far above the 
Neckar, I sang, amused by the echo, and observing 
that the birds came nearer and nearer to outsing 

90 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

me, as it seemed ! We always remained quite by 
ourselves, fortunately. 

Returned home we found my dear father's 
health restored, to a certain degree, and I recom- 
menced singing as before ; but soon it was decided 
I should go to Russia. My mother and I set out, 
and en route I gave concerts in Berlin, Konigsberg, 
Dantzig, Gottingen and elsewhere. In Dantzig, 
our consul, a German, gave us a dinner, where I 
was told by a guest that I should meet at the 
evening reception which ensued at the casino, the 
consul's four wives ! the three former ones, 
divorced, besides the two daughters by some of 
them, and the fourth actual wife, present at 
dinner ! On leaving Dantzig, our carriage was 
filled with big boxes of its "marzipan" and other 
sweets, one enthusiastic baker throwing in, besides, 
a whole list of his cakes, several named after me. 
One part of the town, quite separate from the 
other, consisting entirely of grain warehouses, 
impressed me greatly. 

We hastened on to St. Petersburg for Christmas, 
and lodged at a private boarding-house kept by 
an English widow, Wilson, and her two daughters, 
where we had two bedrooms, of w^hich one w^e 
converted into a sitting-room, though our meals 
were taken and many hours spent with the other 
boarders, all non-Russians. The English Foreign 
Office officials all in turn stayed here, and a few 
Germans, high officials and cultivated gentlemen. 

St. Petersburg 91 

I sang in public more than once, but the main 
object of our coming, the Empress, for whom we 
had letters from Berlin, fell ill — from eating 
" blimm," it was said, a cake made of oil batter, 
of which she was very fond — and for weeks could 
not see or hear me. Add to this serious mischance 
a still worse happened. I had paled somewhat, 
living " a la Russe," in heated un-aired rooms, 
and my mother, thinking it would reanimate me, 
made me walk briskly in a fur-lined cloak. I did 
so, got over-heated, and I, who never took cold, 
got a bad sore throat in the frozen fog called air 
in St. Petersburg — the reverse of saint in any and 
every respect. It ever reminded me of one of 
Dante's sections of " Inferno," Dante, like myself, 
holding hell to be cold ! ! I learnt to know by 
the evil smell when rooms were bedrooms ; divided 
into half by a wooden green-silk-covered screen, 
in front of which, never aired, double-windowed, 
and heated by a hot stove from outside, one was 
received. I, who have the misfortune to detect 
the decomposition of air, and always live by pre- 
ference in a draught of fresh air, cannot describe 
what I have suffered all my life when in gas-lighted 
halls, in crowds of breaths and of reeking, steaming 
clothes, giving off their perverted vapours, I have 
had to sing and smile through it all ! I, whose 
appetite is taken away by the mixed odours of 
grand dinners, and who have been made ill by the 
strong scent of tea-roses ! . . . One morning we 

92 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

had to be received rather early by a prince- 
minister ; he appeared in gorgeous Persian wrapper, 
but beneath this his shirt-cuffs could be seen, 
cane-coloured with greasy long wear, seldom if 
ever washed ! 

Thalberg was at this time in St. Petersburg. 
I had known him well, already in England, where 
I had sung at his first small concert. He and I 
were called to an evening performance at the palace 
of the Grand-Duchess Michael. There that hand- 
some, most amiable lady invited us both to take 
tea with her. Whilst she discoursed with Thalberg, 
he, knowing that nothing flatters Russians so 
much as abuse of England and the English, began 
to turn them into ridicule as no artists or judges 
of music. I being young, foolish and impulsive, 
broke in against all rules of etiquette, or even of 
polite society: " Even if it were true, you should 
not speak thus, as it is entirely to them you owe 
your celebrity." An eloquent dead silence ensued, 
and I have often since reflected on and appreciated 
the extremely kind tolerance of the Grand-Duchess 
Helena towards my youthful outburst. 

Finally, I was called to her Majesty; gracious- 
ness does not suffice to describe this amiable 
Prussian's manner to me ; she made endless 
inquiries concerning her many Berlin relatives, 
went into extasies over a little trifle I sang — 
" Mein Herz ist ein Reiter," which she laughingly 
said she had often sung as a girl, and made me 

St. Petersburg 93 

sing over and over again, expressing her sorrow 
to have been disabled from hearing me till so 
late, but meant to make up for lost time. This 
highly flattering speech embarrassed me not a 
little, as I told her my health required my leaving 
Russia at once. She laughed and replied, " Not 
when the Empress desires you to remain, mon 
enfant." When I got home, my mother, though 
itw^as late in the evening, sent to Lord Clanricarde, 
our ambassador and kind friend — as was his wife, 
the handsome, distinguished daughter of the cele- 
brated Canning — who came at once, accompanied 
by the doctor of the embassy. Sir George .... 
The latter declared to my mother that twice I 
had regained my voice after violent throat attacks, 
but he could not answer for it that any renewal of 
such might not for ever deprive me of my voice. 
On hearing this sentence, my mother begged Lord 
Clanricarde, to obtain an audience of the Empress 
and explain exactly what obliged her, in conscience, 
to leave Russia without delay even against her 
Majesty's flattering desire to the contrary. Later 
I received through Lord Clanricarde a splendid 
brooch in brilliants from the Empress.* 

Next day, 6th April, together with a Queen's 
courier and armed with a " podorodzna " — special 
order for express horses, two or four as needed — 
we hastened away, crossing many rivers, broad, 
strong and deep, strongly frozen over. I much 

* Stolen with almost all her jewels, later in Italy, travelling. 

94 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

regretted, then and ever since, not going to Moscow, 
and believe that had I, in Russia, led the only 
possible life, indoors, walking up and down rooms 
according to usage instead of English out-of-door 
exercise, I might have borne the hideous climate 
quite as well as other artists do. 

A curious amusement there is to drive, always 
in open sledge, to restaurants, big wooden houses 
a few miles out of town, there refresh, see or join 
in dancing, and home again through the snow. 
Before re-entering, one's cavalier inspects one's face 
and ears with a lighted lamp, and if signs of freezing 
appear, he takes up some snow and with it rubs 
the place — a precaution which prevents frost-bite 
sores. I was informed that Russians have the 
privilege of kissing their sleighing partner ; but not 
being a Russian, this ceremony, thank God, was 
foregone with me. Kissing among Russians is 
frequent ; the men kiss the lady's hand — as in 
Germany and Italy — but the lady, meanwhile, 
kisses the man's forehead, in Russia. At Easter, 
the kiss of peace, accompanied by the words, 
" Christ is arisen," is obligatory ; even the moujik 
may, nay must, so salute the Emperor. It is 
said that a Jew once denied the kiss and the 
affirmation to the Emperor Nicholas ! 

When the bridge across the wide Neva has to 
be removed, a double row of trees, or poles, are 
planted where the bridge stood, simply by making 
holes in the frozen river and holding the tree in it ; 

St. Petersburg 95 

ice soon forms all around and upholds it all through 
winter. The river was always half hidden by 
congealed fog, and to see the sledges appear and 
disappear across to the island and to the fortress 
opposite reminded me of ghosts ; grey cloaks, 
grey uniforms, grey sky, all was grey and 
grimy. . . . 

Nicholas' two daughters, Marie, dark-haired, 
and Olga, blond, were as lovely in face, figure and 
ways as to remind me, then and after, of fairy- 
tale princesses. The year succeeding my winter 
in Russia, both were brought from St. Petersburg, 
avowedly to be married, so much so that Marie is 
reported to have said, '' I never mean to marry 
out of beloved Russia." She did marry Leuchten- 
berg, who was made to reside in Russia, conse- 
quently early to die there, he being one of the 
unhappy consumptive sons of Beauharnais. Olga 
became Queen of Wurtemberg. 

Two years later, at Darmstadt, I had the honour 
to be remembered by, and called to sing to, this 
most amiable Empress, there to make acquaintance 
with her son's afhanced bride, a lovely creature 
whose yearning expression made me pity this 
sweet young victim, as I considered her, condemned 
to Russia. The Empress kindly reproached me 
for having fled from St. Petersburg, but quite 
forgave me, and fascinated me entirely. I was 
called to Darmstadt on that occasion — from 
Wiesbaden I think — by Prince Eugene in person ; 

96 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

the man to whom the great Napoleon, at the battle 
of Leipzig, addressed the words, " En avant, 
futur roi de Prusse ! " Darmstadt was a pleasant 
little German Court, reminding me somewhat of 
Weimar ; family life seemed most agreeable, sans- 
gene and enviable — who knows ? 

Quitting St. Petersburg, we crossed over rivers 
frozen hard, but as we neared the Vistula a thaw 
had set in towards the south, and the ice bursting 
at Warsaw caused a potent overflow, and near 
Marienwerder we were brought to a standstill. 
The passage over the ice on the Vistula was 
impossible, but a sort of embankment was raised 
quickly along which our carriage was dragged, 
swaying and staggering as if it must break or 
upset. It did not break, but it upset from the 
snow-covered road on to the fields below ; horses, 
coachmen, and our servant, Jelouka dragged us 
back on to the road, and we arrived finally at 
Marienwerder. The sight was striking ; blocks 
of ice, the size of houses, had uprooted big trees, 
upset houses and all which came in their way — 
accidents not unfrequent in these dismal places : 
" Et ces gens appellent ceci une patrie," came to 
one's mind ! The proprietors of these lands, who 
live, spread out, in big settlements assembled, as 
usual on these occasions, at the caravanserai hotel 
on the river border, and at once initiated a sort of 
concert, where I was asked to sing, after which 
dancing set in ; — a philosophical mode of getting 

Singing Russian 97 

pleasure out of evil, loss, misery, and disagreeables 

Of Russian I learnt only sufficiently to sing 
the fine hymn, "Bodgei tsaria chranui," composed 
by the Emperor's aide-de-camp Lwoff, but so 
rightly pronounced, through the kind instruction 
and patience of Feodoreff, secretary at the Prussian 
embassy, that I was repeatedly addressed in Rus- 
sian, as it was insisted I must know the language. 
But I had only a parrot's gift at it, and parrot 
fashion I learnt also " Crassnui sarafan," " Solowei 
moi," and many other lovely songs. Besides my 
own great liking for national songs and hymns I 
was, as an artist, desirous to pay a stranger's com- 
pliment to the people of the countries I visited, and 
to their reigning sovereigns by singing to them their 
national songs in the original. Thus in Prussia I 
sang ''God save the Queen" in German (probably 
the original words to Lulli's minuet, adopted by 
the French-loving Frederick the Great).* 

* The writer's opinion as to the origin of our National Anthem 
was shared by a number of people at the time she wrote ; historical 
research has not yet made the matter quite clear, but it is now quite 
incontestably established that neither a French nor a German source 
can have been the original. Whether the tune was an adaptation 
from an " Ayre" by Dr. John Bull, or an original composition of either 
Henry Carey or James Oswald, there is documentary evidence to show 
that it was in existence as we know it (and was considered old), in 
1745 ; Lully's claim to its composition rests on the fictitious So uvemys 
de la Marquise de Cre'qiii, and first occurs in a French collection in 
1766. The Danes adopted it as their National Anthem (acknowledg- 
ing the debt to England) in 1790, and the German translation of the 
words " Heil dir im Siegerkranz," was adapted from the Danish 
version by one B. G. Schumacher, in 1793. 


98 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Singing it once in Diisseldorf it was encored, as 
mostly the case, but to my extreme surprise, the 
Governor, Prince Frederick — cousin to my BerHn 
princes — came to thank me, most seriously, for 
what he considered an event of such political 
importance, he had telegraphed it to Berlin, as a 
victory ! The dislike to Prussia and its rule in 
the Rhine provinces was notorious. How often 
a mere lucky accident effects more than studied 
efforts — all through life. 

Returned to England, I took to singing again 
in all the concerts and parties of the season, and 
at the autumn festivals, these last being greatl}^ 
to my taste, in every respect. Sacred music can 
never be heard so fittingly as inside cathedrals, 
added to which the more or less beautiful neighbour- 
hoods, the houses with gardens surrounding the 
cathedrals, each and all hospitably thrown open 
to the neighbours coming from near and far 
animating the quaint dull towns — women whose 
beauty is so eminently fitted for daylight, " break- 
fast faces," as I heard a clever man call them, 
in their best attire and free from the stiffness so 
detrimental to the EngHsh among strangers — all 
combined to render these country festivals perfec- 
tion. I was much and kindly petted by every one, 
and soon adopted into a sort of " one of them- 
selves," many becoming real, and dear friends. 
In one family, the W. J.'s, where I spent many 
holidays, the father told me he had, at a hunt. 

Milan Again 99 

overheard some one say that I was, in reahty, one 
of [his many daughters, and that I sang under a 
feigned name much too pretty to be real ! Truth 
is seldom believed, nonsense mostly. 

In these festivals I heard Mrs. Knyvett, 
Caradori- Allan, Vaughan, and Braham, incom- 
parable though old ; but my great favourite was 
Henry Phillips, and I was vexed when my enthu- 
siasm was met by my father and others vaunting 
Incledon and Bartleman's superiority over him. 

My mother, to disguise my exceeding youth, 
when I first appeared in public, made me wear 
long skirts, instead of the short ones usual at that 
age, and later was annoyed at the inevitable 
consequence, people maintaining that I was much 
older than my real years, and vowed she would 
come provided with my baptismal register ! 


We now returned to Milan for the second time, 
for me to study under Micheroux, to whose judg- 
ment it was left to decide when I was fit to make 
my debut on the stage, how and where, and all 
details. Almost every night I attended the opera 
performances, and heard there Tadolini, Coletti, 
Donzelli, and others. 

The highest art carefully conceals the machinery 
at the back of the canvas necessary to produce its 

TOO Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

grandest results, enhancing thus the effect on 
those who witness its triumphs, making it appear 
easy and spontaneous ; an exquisite refinement, 
this, lost on the herd, the majority of which is 
below comprehending it. This may account for 
the success of mediocrities, often preferred, at 
first and for a short time, to the superiors they 
are pitted against and coupled with. Mediocrities 
make the most of their toil by efforts and contor- 
tions, enlisting compassion and compelling thank- 
fulness in vulgar audiences. Taglioni had such 
over-long arms that, to disguise this, she invented 
graceful movements and attitudes with them, 
quite a novelty in dancers at that time. Such 
was her admirable grace and seeming ease that I, 
when a child, tried in my nightgown, after seeing 
her, to do her " pas," quite surprised at faihng 
utterly ! Cerito, that pocket Venus, when coming 
down to the footlights to acknowledge plaudits, 
after marvellous /z^/^/s, would restrain her pantings, 
to do away with any appearance of effort in what 
she had done. Malibran, a ceaseless student, 
amused herself, saying that her endless variety 
was spontaneous, which to a certain extent, 
however, was true, for according to whim or 
impulse she would try experiments — in public as 
well as in private. Pasta, that Tragic Muse, 
imposing in grand beauty and sublime in simplicity, 
conscientious in all things, studied in museums her 
statuesque attitudes and draperies, and continued 

Pasta I o I 

to study "Norma," "Beatrice," and other operas 
long after attaining success, the completest, in all 
of them. Submissive to a vulgar mother to her 
latest breath, she would come and whisper a few 
words at the door of the darkened bedroom where 
she passed long weeks nursing this mother ; over- 
indulgent to her only child and forbearing to an 
unfaithful husband, she, pure as snow . . . she 
was a rare creature ! 

I had now in Milan a sort of epilogue to my 
visit in Vienna in being called — also Adelaide 
Kemble — to sing during the dreary banquet on 
the occasion of the wretched Ferdinand's coronation 
with the Iron Crown, as King of Lombardy ; a 
more lugubrious farce I never witnessed in all my 
life. I saw him also at La Scala, on the gala 
night. What a sad sight ! the poor, big-headed, 
half-witted emperor, his angelic martyr- wife at 
his side, ever in terror, I was told, and ceaselessly 
praying Heaven, during these trying ceremonials, 
that her miserable husband, a victim, be spared one 
of his epileptic fits. Prince Metternich, the real 
sovereign, gave on this occasion a grand reception 
and concert, in which sang Mme. Pasta, Prince 
Belgiojoso — a splendid tenor and real artist — 
and my humble self. The prince, clever in paying 
rare compliments, as in other ways, said aloud, 
" Were I not minister and otherwise busy, I 
would choose to be an impresario with such artists 
for my troupe." A few days later I received 

I02 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

from the princess a pretty bracelet with cameos, 
which I put on at once, as we were going out to 
see some illuminations. Alas ! on returning home 
it was gone ! So I had to write my thanks for 
what I no longer possessed, and a souvenir, too, 
from such people and of such a soiree ! 

From Mme. Pasta's balcony I witnessed the 
entrance of the troops. The smart red uniforms 
of the Hungarians were ridiculed as " tomatoes " ; 
certainly, even to my ignorant youth, the difference 
from the Italian troops was striking ; splendid 
men, soberly dressed, eyes downcast and oppressed 
with shame, passing amid dead, significant silence ; 
I was awed, so eloquent it was ; tears were in the 
eyes of the women and men around me. 

This whole episode was a strange brilliant 
interlude in my quiet student life. 

Liszt was at this time in Milan ; a poseur by 
nature, he was almost driven to eccentricities by 
the frenzies of women over him, some of whom 
absolutely pursued him, nay, ran him down. At 
Vienna, as elsewhere, when he broke the strings 
of the piano during concerts, the women rushed 
on to the platform to seize them and have bracelets 
made of them ; and when he left Vienna, fifteen 
or twenty carriagefuls of these cracked creatures 
pursued him as far as the first station where change 
of post-horses took place. 

He had offended the Milanese by some news- 
paper article, for he wrote pungently as he mostly 

Debut in Opera 103 

spoke, therefore, when about to give a concert, 
no singer dared take part in it. Hearing that I 
was in Milan, studying, he called one day and 
obtained leave from my mother, whom he had 
known, that I should sing at his concert. There 
I saw these scrambles for strings broken purposely 
and the several pianos standing ready should the 
breakages cripple unserviceably the piano played 
on ! Liszt was, to me, most good-natured ; to 
give me courage to have a tooth out, one day, he 
actually complied with my flattery and played 
Weber's " Concertstiick " — my great favourite — 
as no one else ever did or could play it. Eccentric 
by system, he dined once at our simple table, and 
coming so late that he was no longer expected, 
found us eating gooseberry-pie ; this sour sweet 
he insisted on eating together with the fish, the 
roast meat, etc., etc. Afterwards he played tricks, 
among others playing on the piano while he turned 
his back on the instrument ; a marvellous feat, 
though only a trick. 

After seven or eight months' study in Milan, 
Micheroux made an engagement for me in Padua 
— my first appearance on the stage — in " Semira- 
mide," so out of date as to be quite an exciting 
novelty ; Marietta Brambilla was my contralto ; 
our duett was applauded, between each phrase, 
by claps sharp as the report of a cannon — not to 
prevent the next phrase being heard — and made 
quite an epoch among the students. 

I04 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

From Padua L went to Bologna, and there 
sang with Coletti and Moriani " Lucrezia Borgia," 
at the Communale ; Moriani teaching me, with 
infinite pains and precision, the death-scene, as he 
had just learnt and executed it in Vienna, with 
Carolina Unger, which scene I, in my turn, taught 
to and executed with Ivanoff, the following 
Carnival in Genoa, at the Carlo Felice. Ivanoff 
was Rossini's great protege, so he felt a sort of 
artistic relationship to me, whom Rossini so kindly 
helped with counsel and musical hints, writing 
cadences for me, etc. He, Rossini, once said, 
** Consider me a sort of uncle, or other loved 
relative, whenever you need information and help," 
and acted on this as well as saying so ; many a 
" scrittura " he helped me so to word as to avoid 
trouble, especially after my falling into a trap 
which cost me dear, but in its results proved my 
fate ; of which more hereafter. 

During one of these journeys a strange incident 
happened which in fiction would be thought 
unnatural ; travelling by vetturino and while 
supping in a small inn, my mother began telling 
me of the infamous lawsuit George IV. brought 
against his wife, the unhappy Princess of Brunswick 
he wished to divorce, and of the nickname, " non 
mi ricordos," given to the many Italian witnesses 
who too often - answered " non mi ricordo ! " 
when unable to deny what the princess's legal 
defenders asked of them in her favour. My mother 

Genoa 105 

could not remember the name of the courier, 
Cav. Bergami, and was searching for it in her 
memory, when suddenly the name was supplied, 
in English, by the little old waiter, who added, 
" I was in the Queen's service ! " Great was our 
consternation at having been understood by a poor 
old waiter in this small out-of-the-way place — 
whose name I forget — and amazing the coincidence 
of such an unusual subject being the theme of 
the two only travellers that night in the big, 
ill-lighted dining-room. What a surprise to the 
old man also to have his own past life thus 
unexpectedly brought up before him — like a 
ghost ! 

Genoa delighted me ! this, indeed, was Italy ! 
the marble palaces, the dazzling brilliance and 
brightness of everj^thing. The steepness of the 
town produced funny sights ; looking out of my 
window the first morning and hearing church 
bells, I looked about for these and discovered the 
belfry far below me — and looking above me I saw 
a lady watering plants in her garden ! The world 
upside down it seemed to me ! 

After Padua, my mother having seen me 
successfully launched in my career, left for England, 
my elder sister Emma replacing her near me, 
besides an elderly sort of " gouvernante," a 
Venetian, plus a man, who left his gondola to 
become cook and manservant to us. For a time 
all went well, but I soon discovered that Lorenzo 

io6 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

was dishonest and a drunkard, and he, setting 
fire to the curtains one evening, was summarily 
dismissed and replaced by the husband of Rossini's 
" gouvernante," a queer goose faithful as a dog, 
but with habits which caused me some annoyance, 
such as emptying my bath out of the window, 
ridding himself in the same way of all refuse from 
the kitchen, with consequent mulcts to be paid, 
excuses tendered, etc. The Signora Caterina was 
an habitual player in the lottery and much too 
occupied with numbers, dreams, and the like to 
be of any use, and finally she became so entirely 
imbecile as to prove dangerous as well as useless ; 
she, one day, mixed up my few medicinal 
powders all together — from tidiness ! as she after- 
wards explained — causing me thus to administer 
to my sister a dose chiefly of alum instead of 
soda ! — so from Genoa I despatched her to her 
native lagoons. 


When the Carnival season in Genoa was over, 
Emma and I returned to Milan, where I had the 
honour and enviable distinction of being chosen 
by Rossini to sing his ** Stabat Mater " in Bologna, 
the following May, together with Ivanoff, Belgio- 
joso, brother to the tenor, and Degli Antoni, 

Contracts 107 

This composition was quite a musical event ; 
all the artists young and old crowded to see and 
know it, for Milan was then, as it is now, the 
" piazza," so-called, where those desiring engage- 
ments meet with the impresarios, or agents, in 
search of pre}' — alias artists ! At Ricordi's the 
" Stabat " was constantly read, tried, admired, 
wondered at — Rossini had, through it, a sort of 
resurrection, having died out of knowledge, partly 
for want of capable singers, partly also from rage 
for novelty and for screams in lieu of singing ; 
the same fashion which had begun in Bellini's 
and Donizetti's youth, and which Pasta, Rubini 
and Co., had succeeded in deferring for some years. 

I was about to sign a contract for Turin, to 
sing in the spring at Victor Emanuel's wedding- 
fetes, when S. L. appearing, stepped in and made 
a gratis contract — though ostensibly for a good 
sum ; a usual feint and " reclame," useful only to 
those for whom art and the stage are only masks 
and occasions to be seen and noticed for other 
ends. I signed, instead, a contract for Modena, 
wedding-fetes of the hated duke's eldest son with 
Ildegonde of Bavaria, where I sang " Belisario " and 
"Marino Faliero " with Fornasari. Here I first 
heard Italian politics talked of, was told of 
Menotti's conspiracy, flight, and capture through 
returning for his dog, who howled at some acci- 
dent — and many other highly interesting episodes, 
told by ej'C-witnesses under their breaths. 

io8 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

The " Stabat Mater," given in Bologna as hom- 
mage to dear Rossini, was so engrossing an event that 
musicians all joined in it enthusiastically. Donizetti 
conducted, and endless professors, male and female, 
formed the chorus, one being Alboni, another 
Ronzi, etc., etc. 

Rossini's own small habitation could not house 
us, his guests, so we, Donizetti, Ivanoff, Belgiojoso, 
my sister Emma and myself, had rooms to sleep 
in in an hotel near by, all dining at Rossini's 
table. Afterwards Rossini used to rehearse us, 
the quartett especially, " Quando corpus," which 
soon went as smoothly as an accordion, so that I 
would say to Rossini, " If you rehearse us because 
you enjoy hearing it, all right, but don't say it 
can be improved ! " And when came the turn of 
the quartett " Sancta Mater," Belgiojoso's regular 
little joke was to alter the phrase, *' Virgo Virgi- 
num preclara " into " Virgo Virginum Miss Clara," 
looking at me ! What anecdotes of former times 
between Rossini and Donizetti — " un vrai gamin " 
always, to his death ! What interesting dis- 
cussions between the two, comparing their several 
" libretti " for operas, Donizetti, in these, so 
infinitely more fortunate than Rossini, and how 
the best " libretti " often inspired the least suc- 
cessful, or good operas ! 

The large room in the Archiginnasio, where 
" Stabat " was performed, proved so inadequate 
that rows of paid places filled the piazza below. 

Rossini's " Stabat Mater." 109 

between the portico and the cathedral of St. 
Petronio — precisely where the cathedral would 
have extended had Rome not forbidden its com- 
pletion for fear it should outdo St. Peter's in size ! 
For three nights these performances were repeated, 
with ever increasing delight to all engaged, per- 
formers and listeners, and with nightly ovations 
to the great maestro. After the third night we 
went to supper to a friend's house, where crowds 
came beneath the windows to hail Rossini re- 
peatedly, and where, within, comic songs and 
merriment kept us all late. 

In remembrance, Rossini gave to each of the four 
principal performers a bound copy of the " Stabat," and 
to Clara Novello, particularly, a gold-stoppered scent- 

From Bologna Donizetti hastened to Vienna, 
there to give his latest opera, " Linda di Cha- 
mounix," with Tadolini, Brambilla and Ronconi. 

As I never omitted hearing and seeing cele- 
brated artists when I could, as an advantageous 
lesson, besides being a great pleasure, my sister 
and I joined a party going to Modena, to hear 
Frezzolini — then at the height of her fame, and 
just married to Paggi, an insignificant tenor and 
worse actor — and Giorgio Ronconi. Frezzolini 
was tall and considered handsome, too angular in 
face, form and attitudes to please me, she became 
an immense favourite in Italy, Paris, and St. 

no Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Petersburg. Giorgio Ronconi was one of the 
most varied and complete artists I ever saw or 
heard as singer and actor, tragic, dramatic, and 
comic ; small and plain in person, deficient in 
voice, and often out of tune, notwithstanding all 
these drawbacks, he for years enraptured the 
public, in and out of Italy ; the nobility of his 
walk and deportment was such as to make him 
appear tall. 

It was in Bologna, during the performance of the 
" Stabat ", that Clara Novello's future husband. Count 
Gigliucci, first heard her, without however seeing her. 
When leaving Fermo for a pleasure tour which included 
Bologna, he was begged to hear Clara Novello and judge 
if it would be desirable to engage her for the season of 
the fair, 15th August to 15th September, to be especially 
brilliant that year, in honour of the re-opening of the 
theatre, repaired and restored. On arriving in Bologna 
he found that not a single seat was to be had, but after 
much labour he obtained, by favour, a place in the 
orchestra — curiously enough, given up to him by Clara's 
own sister — where he could hear but not see the singers. 
His report was favourable and the " scrittura " was 
offered to her. 

I was to have returned to Padua to sing during 
the summer, but some intrigue, which I now forget, 
broke my contract at the last moment, and by 
Rossini's advice I accepted the offer to sing at 
Fermo, hitherto not a " teatro di cartello," but 
on this occasion first raised to this rank. Here I 

Bust of Clara Novello. 

Bv Ptttiinati. 

A Trap 1 1 1 

sang Pacini's " Saffo " — lately written and in quite 
a new style, compared with his usual popular 
operas — and " Beatrice di Tenda." After Fermo 
I was to have proceeded to Naples for the autumn 
season, but Fate willed otherwise. 

From Rome I had had proposals to sing at the 
Apollo, in the ensuing Carnival, and a certain 
Marchese L. trapped my inexperience into a 
written " compromesso " which I intended as a 
mere note to himself ; my success in Genoa having 
caused the impresario there to offer me, mean- 
while, a " scrittura " for the ensuing Carnival, I 
accepted and signed this. But once in Fermo in 
the Papal States, the arbitrary Roman Government 
having me in its power, gave order to detain me, 
against all justice — as usual with Papal rule — 
until Carnival, when I was to sing in Rome whether 
I would or not. I wished to resist, but was 
persuaded by kind experienced friends not to 
risk imprisonment — with which I was explicitly 
menaced — so I gave in, Marchese Passari being 
surety for me that I would not give them the 
slip. I applied for help to our Foreign Office, 
and after endless discussions a droll sort of Solo- 
mon's-] udgment-like compromise was come to 
between the belligerent impresarios of Rome and 
Genoa, dividing me between them during the 
Carnival ; for I insisted that having promised to 
sing in Genoa I must and would keep my word, 
and on that condition alone consented to sing 

112 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

at all in Rome, where only a nasty trick had 
entrapped me. 

On this, as on most other occasions during these 
years, Clara Novello took counsel with Rossini. The 
following letter, one of many written on the same subject, 
testifies to the active and truly fatherly interest which 
the great composer took in the young artist. 


Dearest Clara, 

Magotti writes me that the " Impresa " in 
Naples has engaged the Loewe for the two autumn months, 
consequently we must think no more about this. 

The Director of the Police, here, informs me he has 
orders from Rome not to give you a passport for leaving 
Italy, should you be coming here ; do your best to obtain 
permission for Bologna, saying that you will be still in 
the Papal States ; once here we will manage about the 
rest. In default write to your ambassador in Rome, and 
tell him that, pending judgment, the utmost that can be 
demanded of you is a guarantee. I will see Giovinardi 
(la^\yer) and ask him if it would not be the proper thing 
to lay a protest against Jacovacci (Roman impresario). 
Do not let these things distress you, be of good cheer, 
because everything rights itself in this world. Warm 
remembrances to your mother and sister, 

Yr. affte., 

G. Rossini. 

I was kept meanwhile in Fermo, one of my 
sisters remaining with me. Fermo, like all the 
so-called towns in the Marche, is perched on the 
top of a hill, the cathedral on the highest point, 
houses all round sloping down the hill. From my 
window I have counted upwards of fifty such 

Fermo 113 

little towns, topping innumerable hills — these 
dotted with endless farmhouses — and rising to the 
magnificent chain of the Apennines, Tocco range, 
Gran Sasso d' Italia, Ascoli range, Vettore, Sibilla, 
as far as the Ancona rock, lying on the sea like a 
couchant monster ; waves of hills and valleys, 
the mist, when l3dng in these, enabling one to 
count at least fourteen in number, between Fermo 
and the highest of these grand mountains, of 
exquisite outhnes. 

It was during these months of unjust " durance 
vile " that I knew and loved my future husband, 
and we agreed he should go to London in spring 
and ask my hand of my parents ; he foregoing, 
on my account, to visit Rome that winter, as 
usual ; thus we only met for an hour, in Genoa, 
next spring, when he passed through from Naples 
to Milan. 

My enforced stay in Fermo was rendered very 
agreeable by the kindness of the Marchesa Passari, 
an exceptional woman, in beauty as in brilliant intel- 
lectual gifts, who treated me like a daughter. She 
received every evening, after a drive and stopping at 
the " Caffe " for ices and chat, as did most ladies at 
that time, no morning visits troubling people then, 
neither did the sociable evenings require prepara- 
tions in the way of toilettes or extra illuminations. 
During the opera, or " fair," season the houses 
were filled with guests, who all met daily in the 
" Piazza," or wherever the fair was held, to make 


114 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

needful purchases or succumb to temptations. 
Dances and receptions filled the off evenings, to 
which those whose means prevented the giving 
of such were made as welcome as all the rest ; 
many a marriage was the result of this intercourse 
between the neighbouring towns. Each small 
town lived its own life, enlivened by the novelties 
introduced by those who could afford to travel 
or to spend a few months in Rome, Naples, or 

In Rome I sang "I Puritani" with Moriani, and 
as I sang without the slightest effort, I was at 
first accused of not choosing to put forth my full 
powers ; very soon, however, I became quite a 
favourite both on the stage and in society, where 
every one kindly vied with each other in petting 

In the " Countess of Granville's Letters," Vol. II., page 
349, she writes : " . . . heard Clara Novello last night 
(January 19th, 1842) at the opera, in the ' Puritani.' 
Nothing ever equalled the furor of applause, wreaths, 
nosegays. . . . She was dragged home in a car and 
surrounded by people with torches," 

How well I remember still the grand assembly 
in Palazzo Borghese on the 6th of January, 1843, 
on which night it was customary for a sort of 
show to be made of family jewels on each princess. 
DazzHng indeed was the sight, with a large number 
of cardinals among the guests, wearing splendid 

Rome 1 1 5 

laces over roseate scarlet silk training robes and 
gorgeous jewelled crosses suspended from gold 
chains on fronts— not to say stomachs — mostly 
very big ! 

I was to sing gratis, as a favour — whether 
from me, at that moment the public's favourite, 
or conferred on me, I will not decide ! The French 
princess-mother, with her eldest son Prince Mar- 
cantoni, then a most interesting widower of the 
lately dead Princess Guendolen Talbot, received 
me in the antechamber, and took me in the private 
room of Donna Agnese, then the only child of the 
widowed prince. There I was made to partake 
of a delicious consomme — as I had just left the 
opera-house, where I had sung " Puritani " — both 
my hosts standing by me ; she, coquettish still in 
wearing no gloves to show her exquisite small 
hands covered with splendid rings. After the 
music dancing followed, of which I was ever 
excessively fond, as a girl. 

Monsignor then "Governatore " of Rome, 

affected to smile graciously at my outspoken 
opinion regarding the way his government had 
cheated me of a lucrative engagement in Naples, 
by detaining me in Fermo pending the decision 
about Genoa — and placed his box at my disposal 
to hear " Lucia." Splendidly acted and even 
sung by Moriani, in his dramatic fashion, it left 
me cold who remembered Rubini in the same part, 
his divine voice, tears a component part of his 

ii6 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

liquid notes, singing as if to himself, in a far 
away reverie, pianissimo, the entire first part of the 
soliloquy in the third act — I felt entranced almost 
to fainting away in extasy ! In art as in beauties 
of nature, absolute perfection strikes one dumb, 

During this half-Carnival season I often saw 
Adelaide Ristori at the Teatro Metastasio ; already 
the idol of the public, her acting of Goldoni's 
" Locandiera " can never be equalled for graceful 
coquetry, now out of date and a forgotten art, 
on the stage — in life — reduced to cocottery ! For 
her benefit she surprised her admirers by acting 
tragedy, in Voltaire's " Zaire." This was thought, 
then, an ambitious mistake, but proved successful ; 
lovely in face and figure, she also possessed a 
noble grace of manner quite irresistible. Not long 
after she married the Marchese Capranica del 
Grillo, and it was only many years later, in 
London, that I made her personal acquaintance, 
which ripened into lasting friendship, based on 
my side on esteem added to admiration, her only 
daughter, Bianca, whom I surnamed '' Edelweiss," 
being quite as lovely and fascinating though of a 
different type. 

Only several years later was I able, at last, to 
see the renowned Rachel, not in tragedy the first 
time, but in Augier's charming piece, " Diane," 
written for her. Having always heard that she 
was ugly, my first surprise was admiration for 

Rachel 117 

her person ; of her might exactly apply the words : 
" Sa physionomie empechait de voir sa figure." 
But in whatever I afterwards heard her, in 
" Adrienne Lecouvreur," " Les Horaces," or 
whatever else it might be, my intense admiration 
left me no powers to criticize. What a voice ! 
what dignity ! what " retenue ! " never stooping 
to rave or over-gesticulate — a look — a tone — ■ 
sufficed to subdue, to crush, to enthral ! What 
marvellous changes of intonation in such phrases 
as, " Je saurai percer le coeur . . . que je n'ai 
su toucher!" fury, love, despair — in two 
words ! 

What art treats of varied kinds were those, 
then, on the French stage, degraded nowadays 
into a monotonous sequence of loathsome scenes 
and moral stench, impossible to witness or submit 
to, and debasing art by teaching that vice and 
delinquents only can interest. 

My mornings, in Rome, were spent mostly in 
the galleries and museums, usually escorted by 
dear old Marchese Giuseppe Azzolino, best of 
cicerones, to whom my friend Marchesa Passari, 
in Fermo, had given me letters ; every evening 
before going to the theatre he used to come — 
and many other kind friends also — to have coffee, 
tell us the news, and take orders, as he called it, 
for next day. On off nights, when I received, he 
was useful and delightful, telling me the histories 
of all the people present, so that I became 

1 1 8 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

intimately acquainted with what rendered them 
so many personages in romances. 

One day it was Campana who kindly showed 
and explained to me the Etruscan tombs in his 
lovely villa near S. Giovanni Laterano, now built 
over and destroyed, alas ! Another day Gennarelli 
took me all over the Etruscan museum in the 
Vatican, lately added and entirely arranged by 
him, pointing out to me what most to notice and 
to admire in those galleries, which would require 
a lifetime, however, dedicated only to them, to 
see them well. Then Cardinal Tosti, whose hobby 
was San Michele, invited me to go and visit it, 
and when there, begged me choose, in remembrance, 
something made in that laboratory, so I chose 
some cloth the same as what the cardinal's cloaks 
are made of, but dyed blue, of which I made 
tippets for Emma and myself to travel in, and 
called them " cardinals." With Avvocato Plana, 
then in Rome, friend of Rossini, I went to see, 
in Palazzo Bonaparte, some lovely things on sale, 
left by Cardinal Fesch, uncle to the great Napoleon, 
among them some exquisite Alencon trimmings, 
which I could have bought and did not, and have 
regretted ever since ! 

In February I left Rome for Genoa, and after 
the Carnival season there, I went to London, 
where, at Drury Lane, I sang Pacini's " Saffo," 
translated, under Macready's management. What 
a stilted conceit-concrete was he ! though a clever 

Marriage 119 

imitation of the Kemble school. " Acis and 
Galatea " followed, then the festivals in autumn, 
and on November 22nd I married and quitted 
public life — for ever ! as I believed. 

We left for the Continent, and at Marseilles 
stayed some weeks, where kind merchant-friends 
invited us to the opera and to picnics in the 
environs. My husband wished to visit Algiers, 
delighting in the sea, while I so dreaded it that he 
relinquished the journey to please me, which I 
have since regretted. We went to Toulon which, 
after Portsmouth arsenal, seemed to me but a 
very poor affair ! On returning to Marseilles we 
found that our rooms — paid for, though vacant, 
to avoid changes — were occupied ; but my hus- 
band's remonstrances ceased as if by magic on 
learning that their occupant was no one less than 
Austria's political martyr, Confalonieri, just re- 
leased from dungeon. I began then to learn the 
glorious deeds of such men, and looked with 
reverence for a glimpse of this one from our 
windows to his, across the courtyard. 

We shipped along the coast to Naples, and 
stayed there some months. We had rooms at the 
Hotel de Rome, opening on to a splendid terrace 
on the sea, so had all the delight without the 
terrible movement of shipboard — and I passed 
endless hours there. The mornings my husband 
spent in expensive and vain spurring on of his 
lawyer in a suit for redress of flagrant injustice 

I20 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

committed against his property across the Tronto 
border, in the NeapoHtan states, and I meanwhile 
enjoyed daily visits of long hours to the inex- 
haustible museum, where the " custode " learnt 
to dread my inquiring spirit and requests for a 
sight of out-of-the-way treasures, which he was 
seldom troubled to bring forth except by 

One evening we went to a gala performance 
at San Carlo (Anna Bishop singing) illuminated 
■' a giorno," and the Court in full Court dresses. 
This consisted, for the ladies, in crimson velvet 
trimmed with gold, making them look like so 
many chorus singers ! 

The King I often saw, driving himself, pig-like 
in face and figure, like his cousin Isabella of Spain, 
and the Queen Christina of Spain, magnificently 
handsome sister of the hideous Duchesse de Berry, 
both equally dissolute in conduct. The mother 
of these, a Spaniard, wore a black wig and still 
desired a young husband ; to prevent scandals a 
very handsome one was provided, named Del B. 
I often saw him, alone, driving splendid horses, 
and saw her also, low-necked, at the opera-house. 
What wonder that both her daughters and her 
unhappy grand-daughter, Isabella, were . . . what 
they were ! 

We made an excursion to Monte Cassino, twin 
of Molk convent on the Danube ; but it proved a 
failure, as women are not admitted without a 

Housekeeping 121 

permit, which our banker knew, but had stupidly 
forgotten to provide us with, or even mention. 

The end of April, seeing my husband's efforts 
with the lawyer quite vain, we decided to leave 
Naples for Fermo ; a fine drive across the Apen- 
nines and vile hostelries everywhere took us to 
San Benedetto del Tronto, where home estates 
began ; thence to Fermo, really our home, and 
its duties. 

My girlish axiom : marriage would be happy 
if one could begin by the second year ! proved a 
ver}^ inspiration or prediction ; on both sides 
relatives disliked our marriage. Seven nuns were 
among my nearest new relatives, and naturally to 
these a theatrical artist could only be an imp of 
Satan ! *' Tridui " * were offered by them to 
prevent our union — in vain ! Little by little, 
however, these ladies grew actually quite fond of 
me, and my family forgave us. 

I set to to prove to my husband that opposite 
though m\' life had been hitherto, love would 
teach me to become a " helpmate " to him — that 
highest title — and I applied myself regularly to 
learn the arduous duties of housewifery in these 
parts ; at first with the help of the " fattore," or 
baihff, but after one month's following him and 
his system implicitly, by myself, altering some of 
his ways and not a few of the locks ! I set up a 
book marking on one side the large and regular 

* Three days' prayer. 

122 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

expenses, and on the other side the so-called odds 
and ends, mostly small and never calculated, 
resulting, however, at each month's end in both 
totals being nearly equal ! — a discovery worth 
making. Postage in those days was no incon- 
siderable item, though post was so dismally slow, 
and oh ! no telegraph — best of all inventions, 
annulling distance and the separation of hearts 
and minds. Next best, though so humble, come 
matches ; before these how difficult to obtain 
light, in sickness and in sudden emergencies so 
costly and uncertain, now cheap and reliable. 

Life in these little towns was far more sociable 
and animated in those days than it is now, for the 
difficulties and lengthiness in the way of travelling 
kept most people in their own homes. Besides 
the annual " fair," lasting one month. Carnival 
brought again a round of gaiety, the theatre re- 
opened not only for operas but for " veglioni " ; 
to these, presided over by a master of ceremonies, 
flocked the whole of the society to dance, and the 
lower classes were admitted also, if respectably 
dressed and also masked, to dance like the rest 
and see the gentlefolk in all their jewels and fine 
clothes. A far sounder " socialism," this, than 
what goes by that name nowadays. 

Clara Novello was noted all her life for exceeding 
frankness of speech and uncompromisingly setting her 
face against people or things she disapproved of. One 
carnival evening, in these days, a lady, masked, entered 

Home Life 123 

her box at the theatre ; a great lace-fancier, Clara 
admired some costly lace on the lady's dress, when the 
latter replied, "It may well be beautiful ; I bought it 
of a maid once in Casa Gighucci." " In that case, 
mascherina," said Clara, " I beg you will leave my box ; 
I don't care for people who buy stolen goods ! " The 
mask permitted the lady's identity to be officially con- 
cealed, but Clara had penetrated the disguise and was 
quite aware who it was to whom she had given the lesson. 
But her frankness was ever direct, and she never said of 
any one what she would not say to him or her. 

I cannot deny I felt lonely sometimes, of an 
evening quite alone, working at clothes for an 
expected baby, half envying the peals of laughter 
from the kitchen far below, while my husband, 
according to custom, was at the " caffe," till ten, 
discussing politics, etc., with his men-friends, after 
a day's work with his peasants and men of business, 
steadily setting to rights what years of neglect had 
tangled in his property. 

Count Gigliucci was an only son, orphan from the 
age of nineteen months, and brought up by his paternal 
grandmother and his uncle, Mgr. Gigliucci, who died soon 
after his elder brother. During this long minority the 
property was managed and mismanaged by his tutor, a 
learned priest but incapable of such work, which needed 
instead very able hands, to repair the damage it had 
suffered, together with most other property all over Italy, 
during that colossal upheaval, the French Revolution, 
when Count Gigliucci's grandfather, then head of the 
family, was taken as hostage by the French and kept for 

124 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

a time in the fortress of Ancona. To enable the young 
proprietor to manage his own estates he, with his grand- 
mother's full consent, obtained a sovereign decree de- 
claring him of age before he was twenty — and soon after 
his grandmother died, at past ninety. His only sister 
was in a convent, founded some centuries before by her 
family, of which she became subsequently Superior, 
remaining so till her death. Thus on her marriage Clara 
Novello found herself sole mistress in her new home ; no 
small boon in times when a bride, entering her husband's 
house, and finding there his parents, uncles, brothers, 
sisters, and endless relatives, became only one of many 
daughters, without power to say a word, even in the 
management of her own babies ! Clara would say. 
playfully, that to marry into such families was like entering 
a Noah's Ark ! 

I generally accompanied my husband on his 
rounds of inspection to the farms,* and soon 
knew our peasants by name, men, women, and 
children, which greatly pleased them. The dis- 
cussions, too, between master and " fattore " 
interested me — how different was everything to 
England and English systems ! Once, coming 
across a particularly arid spot, the question was. 
What was to be done as nothing would grow on 
it ? " Nothing but to bring sheep," decided the 
fattore. I couldn't help asking if sheep, in Italy, 
studied geology ? 

For two years I never had a piano, purposely 
to convince my husband that I never regretted 

* These lie some miles away from Fermo. 

Dragonetti's Legacy 125 

my public life, as " d d good-natured friends " 

kept constantly assuring him that I should ; but 
not to neglect my singing entirely I exercised my 
voice often when alone. When, however, old 
Dragonetti died and left me a hundred pounds, I 
begged my father to purchase with this sum a 
square Broadwood piano, and when it came it 
proved a source of great pleasure, and subsequently 
of advantage also. 

The celebrated double-bass player, Dragonetti, was a 
great friend of Vincent Novello, who often acted as inter- 
preter to him, Dragonetti never having leamt to speak 
Italian. He gave V. Novello a lock of his friend Beet- 
hoven's hair, and a letter of Paganini, in which the great 
artist sends messages to the " divino Maestro Novello." 

Another way of courting my husband was by 
constraining myself to learn and take interest in 
politics, sufficiently at least to know what he 
alluded to in conversing with me. In childhood 
I had heard English politics talked about by my 
father, Charles Cowden Clarke, and most men who 
visited in our house ; we little ones never being 
allowed to speak a word, were permitted on a sign 
to " run away " from table, and long after child- 
hood I continued to do the same to avoid what I 
felt no interest in, nor could hope to remedy, and 
the discussions often rising to disputes, besides 
the arguments being distressing and tedious, I 
learnt to detest the very name of politics. But 

126 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Italian politics, about the years '45 and '49, were 
a very different thing, entered one's life whether 
liked or disliked, so influenced everything that one 
was obliged to attend to them, and I soon saw 
that my husband cared and lived for nothing so 
much. So I read daily four or five newspapers, 
all small and short, and soon heated myself up to 
intensest feelings which have lasted all our lives 
and influenced all our decisions. 


Gregory XVI. dying, Pius IX. was elected ; 
my husband was a personal friend of his nephew. 
Count Luigi Mastai, who came to Fermo and 
stayed in our house. My husband, though young, 
was quite a leading man in Fermo, head of the 
civic guard, instituted by Pius IX., and one of 
the foremost among the municipal and provincial 
councillors, he was called upon, on all occasions, 
to decide even where older men held nominal 

One morning we were roused by the news 
that Padre Gavazzi had arrived suddenly and was 
haranguing the people in the piazza, assembling 
volunteers to follow him as soldiers ; my husband 
donned his uniform and ran to give orders ; I 
followed to hear the harangue. Padre Gavazzi, 
splendidly picturesque, standing on a table in 

Politics 127 

black cassock with large cross in colours sewn on 
the left side, his sonorous voice, powerful build, 
vigorous in words and noble in gestures, was a 
sight so exciting that I and three other lady 
friends drove after him to Porto di Fermo (now 
called Porto San Giorgio) to hear him a second 
time there, where he had gone to see and say adieu 
to friends, many of whom at once volunteered 
and departed with him to join Garibaldi. 

In autumn w^e went to stay in a small ** casino " 
we were building just across the river Tronto, on 
Neapolitan ground, and whilst there a cousin from 
Ancona brought the horrible news of Pellegrino 
Rossi's assassination by the ** sinistra " or reds ; 
sinisters, as I call them, who have been Italy's 
bane from the beginning till now, verifying over 
again Milton's words, " Licence they mean when 
liberty they cry ! " 

My husband had been elected member for 
Fermo,* and on this terrible news decided that 
his proper place was in Rome, the scene of 
danger ; at once we hurried there, sooner than 
had been intended. 

The first year of Pius IX. 's reign had begun 
by incredulous joy at the signs he gave of real 
liberal sentiments, and the joy soon rose to a very 
delirium of boundless hopes. During these first 
bright, hopeful months, nightly were the scenes 
at the theatre of frenzied applause when words 

* In the first constitutional Parliament called by Pius IX. 

128 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

recurred allusive to the events and aspirations of 
the times ; the performance would be interrupted 
for some minutes, handkerchiefs and scarfs waved 
from all the boxes, and finally all knotted together, 
between the upper and lower tiers forming quite 
a network which joined the entire audience in 
sign of Unity ! Some days joyful news of some 
sort, spreading from the " caffe," would cause a 
procession, ever increasing, with flags improvised, 
to stop below windows, until the inmates of the 
houses appeared there, hurrahing and waving 
answering flags — tricolored, of course, that symbol 
of liberty, so significant, so long sighed for in vain ! 

Horses being needed for the army and funds 
low, Pius IX. made a patriotic appeal inviting 
those who possessed horses to send them ; my 
husband was the first,* in the Papal States, to 
answer this appeal, and sent the one pair we could 
afford to keep, we remaining, thenceforth, gladly 
on foot. 

But all this joy, progress and liberty alarmed 
the Jesuits, and they showed their contrariety so 
openly that they were accused by the people of 
intending to poison the Pope at a dinner given 
him in the Jesuits' college; assembling below, under 
the windows, they insisted on his coming on to the 
balcony to reassure them. The assassination of 
Pellegrino Rossi followed not long after, and blacks 

* The Minister Gualterio, in a public proclamation, recognized 
this fact. 

Venice 129 

and reds joined forces against liberty, their means 
to their ends identical, terrorising to tyrannise — 
their combined colours the Devil's own livery ! 

My mother, to whom I had announced our 
going to Rome, adding, ** Why not come there, 
also, and see us all ? " never hoping she would 
accept, came to Rome and never left Italy again, 
which doubtless prolonged her life some five years ; 
Providence often uses humble means to its ends. 
Only once, since my marriage two years before, 
had my parents and some members of my family 
come to Italy, making a trip to Venice, where they 
asked us to join them. This news had upset me 
with urgent longings, and my indulgent half had 
consented at once, but a baby was expected 
imminently, when a woman becomes a " Temple 
(of the Holy Ghost)," and should sacrifice every- 
thing to avoid risk. Venice, on maps, and now- 
adays, is easily reached from Fermo ; not so then, 
and I therefore renounced undertaking the journey. 
But it cost my nerves not a little, disabling me 
even from reading — my eternal solace — and to 
calm them I set to on a long monotonous piece of 
needlework, one of women's few but great and 
real privileges. Men, also, at that time used to 
employ their leisure in various manual labours, 
highly useful to them, morally and physically. 
My husband was an able worker in wood, metal 
and leather ; was turner and bookbinder, and 
knew all the technical peculiarities of these arts, 


130 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

to the surprise and admiration of the professional 
craftsmen, a circumstance which contributed to 
render him popular, esteemed and beloved at 
home and abroad. He took kindly to gardening, 
and was a born architect ; as a boy he was denied 
the necessary implements, compasses, etc., as it 
was feared these would distract him from law- 
studies, considered more suitable to a nobleman 
and a proprietor ! as if to cultivate his natural 
gifts would not have been a better relaxation than 
idleness ! — ever dangerous to youth ; he eluded 
their mistaken vigilance, however, and manu- 
factured for himself his own implements, and most 
useful through life were these gifts to him and to 
those around him. 

Travelling in Italy was at that time hemmed in by 
difficulties of all kinds, moral as well as material ; the 
mere fact of desiring to leave home and to travel created 
suspicion in the authorities. The Novello family, ever 
after, called this the Nous-sommes-sept journey on account 
of the innumerable times they gave that reply, the first 
in the lengthy interrogatories they were subjected to in 
the police offices they were summoned to there to account 
for themselves, their profession, their motives for travelling, 
etc., etc. The answer given that they were seven artists, 
travelling for pleasure, was entirely unconvincing, and in 
Milan an agent was told off to follow them wherever they 
went, and to remain in the hotel hall when they were 
indoors. Doubtless it was owing to their being British 
subjects that they were not more molested ; as it was,. 

Anxious Times 131 

" our spy " was rather a source of amusement to the 
Novellos, who to tease him would sally out all together, 
but suddenly all separate, leaving him distracted in 
indecision which conspirator it most behoved him to 

Events began to thicken rapidly. The recall 
of the Neapolitan troops under Pepe roused 
indignation and disgust ; as usual the foxes 
incited the geese — alias mob — to make some 
demonstration which would only have served as 
the desired signal for sacking Fermo. My hus- 
band was able, just in time, to prevail against 
this insanity. My maids, like others, in agonies of 
fright, begged they might hide in cellar or cock- 
loft — as if to do so could have helped them had 
such horrors once begun. The troops, in silence, 
passed through Porto di Fermo, where they had 
previously been covered by flowers and feted in 
all ways, when going north to fight the Austrian 
troops entered to keep order and protect property, 
under which fair names endless acts of arbitrary 
tyranny and theft were committed. Soon com- 
menced, on all sides, the imprisonment of those 
patriots known to disapprove and deplore Italy's 
relapse to slavery ; I trembled each time my hus- 
band left home for fear he should be arrested also, 
as so many were daily. I had a passport prepared, 
in case we should need it, for flight, the English 
consul in Ancona giving me one, though I had 
lost all my rights as a British subject by marrying 

132 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

a foreigner — but England had given him instruc- 
tions to be extra easy in such matters. 

During the siege of Ancona, whilst my husband 
was at his post in Rome, a friend came to confide 
to me his intention of flying to Ancona, with his 
wife and family, to place them under the security 
of its guns, and proposed to me to accompany 
them should I desire to do so. I declined, saying 
my children might suffer in the great heat from 
want of their cool big house, change of diet, etc., 
that if my husband heard of my flight his anxiety 
would be increased tenfold, deterred as he was 
from joining us ; moreover any danger seemed 
greater to me in a besieged town than in Fermo 
where I was known, even should it be attacked. 
He left, but, unconvinced I had spoken the real 
reasons which detained me in Fermo, this generous 
friend returned and delicately offered me no small 
loan of money if that was what prevented my 
joining in their flight ; I could only thank him 
but still refused. 

Courage — or what appears so to the many who 
in flight see a remedy against all sorts of dangers, 
whereas these are oftenest increased thereby — is 
contagious, and next day I learnt that my example 
induced this friend to relinquish his own purposed 

In autumn we decided to quit Fermo and settle 
in our small country house, in Martin Sicuro, just 
across the Neapolitan border. One morning,there, 

Public Life Again 133 

my husband received the visit of an official sent 
to intimate to him his immediate departure from 
the realm — no time was allowed him to send for 
horses — (his own had been given to Pius IX. as 
a war contribution), so oxen were put to the 
carriage and off he went, accompanied by the 
official. Next day I was ordered to follow with 
the children, but I refused to do so till one of my 
babies had got rid of a slight fever, saying, " I 
won't stir unless removed bodily, and I'm heavy 
to carry ! " — so they gave in. 

Once, many weeks previously, my husband 
had chanced to say, at the '* caffe," " If these 
taxes reduce me to it, I shall remedy money 
matters by my wife returning to the profession." 
These words, spoken idly out of mere irritation, 
were reported at once by a gentleman present to 
a theatrical agent in Rome, one of the Ronzi 
brothers, who on the strength of the same came to 
Fermo, called, and offered me a " scrittura " for the 
ensuing Carnival in Rome, to sing " Semiramide," 
with Alboni as Arsace, and " Robert le Diable." 
My husband was absent in Ancona ; on his return 
I took his breath away by this news ; at first he 
utterly scouted the notion, and laughed at the 
bare suggestion. ... I was nursing a baby among 
other difficulties. But I made him observe the 
curious coincidence of "Semiramide" being the 
self-same opera I had made my first appearance in 
in Padua, and which had never been sung for years. 

134 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

** Robert le Diable," quite a novelty, long sighed 
for, Alboni as companion, bass and tenor good, 
etc. — my own anxiety to see him safe out of all 
the late tyrannical arrests — arms and books were 
all seized — and how were our children to be 
educated under such a regime ? ... At last he 
consented, and great was the consequent hubbub. 
We closed our house — letting it, later, the better 
to preserve it — and departed for Rome at the end 
of November, 1849 

Here there awaited us one of those strange 
combinations which happen, though rarely, in real 
life, but are thought too unnatural for fiction. 
Domeniconi, a respectable man, an actor, had 
only lent his name as my impresario to cover that 
of the notorious Jacovacci, whose fishy transactions 
were too well — or ill — known to allow him to appear 
openly. Originally a fishmonger, he had been for 
years, off and on, nominally or not, the impresario 
of Roman theatres, and was so when I had been 
cheated — the authorities abetting — into singing, 
almost gratis, that half-Carnival in 1843. Fearing 
his name might prevent my accepting to sing 
under his management, he had prevailed on 
Domeniconi to lend his name ; Alboni's engage- 
ment had not been concluded, which prevented 
"Semiramide" being performed. Already Italy 
produced few singers able to attempt such operas, 
screaming having taken the place of singing by 
youngsters whose voices were cheaply and quickly 

Re-appearance 135 

taught to perform screams able to outdo the 
orchestra ; instruments playing the voice parts 
in unison all through resulted in soon ruining the 
voices and the public ear ; noise and ever louder 
noise soon was required and furnished. As to 
"Robert le Diable,"the government would not allow 
its performance under any mask or new appella- 
tion. As these two operas were those I was 
engaged by contract to sing, and neither being 
possible, I held the whip hand over my former 
cheat, and could have enforced payment, legally, 
without singing a note. A most rare state of things 
and very tempting ! But rogues are never treated 
as they deserve by those whose moral level is 
superior to theirs, and we renounced enforcing our 
rights. Moreover, the public, the only patron I 
ever recognised, would have been disappointed and 
vexed with me, though legally in my right. Above 
all, we preferred not to risk irritating the autho- 
rities, who did all they could to worry my husband 
about passports or permits to remain ; during the 
entire season he was repeatedly called to the police 
office to give his reasons why he thus suddenly 
made his wife return to her profession — too 
obviously a political protest against the doings 
of Papal misgovernment, and the Austrians, to be 
palatable to them. 

We came to terms with the impresario, and 
Donizetti's "Poliuto" was finally decided on as 
the opera to open the season with. Lovely as this 

136 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

opera is, its libretto became a symbol of what was 
being enacted in Rome, at that moment, so 
abhorrent to the majority. The bass, Settimio 
Severo, was rechristened General Oudinot, and 
the whole story represented French troops re- 
pressing Rome's liberty ! Nevertheless the public 
endured us, singers, and the lovely music over- 
came a little their dislike to the libretto. 

The revolutions had ruined many of the lesser 
Italian theatres, and La Pergola, in Florence, had 
many dependents needing help ; a spring season 
was organised by the Ronzi brothers, and I was 
engaged to sing " Sonnambula " with Naudin. 


In spring we left Rome, shaking its dust from our 
feet, and we never returned to it till 1871, after 
its liberation from Papal rule. The journey to 
Florence was so bitterly cold that icicles rattled 
in my husband's beard, as he sat outside, the 
children, myself, and the nurse inside. 

Rossini was living then in Florence, and he — 
as ever — was as kind as any affectionate uncle 
could have been ; I long kept the cadences he 
wrote for our duett. At the end of the season 
some one had the happy idea to propose a per- 
formance of the " Stabat," for the benefit of the poor 
artisans and dependents of the theatre ; this was 

Social Prejudices 137 

such a grand financial success that the performance 
was repeated once, if not twice — no one more 
pleased than the beloved maestro. 

Whilst singing at La Pergola I had a curious 
proof of the strength of class prejudice. I was 
driving home from rehearsal in the artists' carriage 
when, seeing a friend, highly-born and more 
highly cultivated, liberal in her views and an 
authoress of educational works, I descended to join 
her. She met me smiling, saying ; ** Dear Clara, 
how ingenuous you are to drive thus publicly in 
the *carrozza della mala carne,' * as it is called." 
I looked my surprise, and she added, " Well, you 
will admit that there is a great deal of evil life in 
the theatre." " True, indeed," I replied, " only — 
on which side of the curtain ? " She was breath- 
less, and I continued, " Allowing that, sometimes, 
members of my profession are not immaculate, 
that is the case in every rank and every station 
of life ; at this moment the entire theatrical troupe, 
dancers included, is absolutely respectable, not so 
the audience, and if you, there, criticise the con- 
duct of the performers, these repay you in kind. 
Florence is rife with scandals of various sorts, so 
from which tier and on which side, right or left, 
shall I begin with ? " And she could not deny 
the notorious irregularities, so regular as to be 
tolerated. Priests ever persecuted the stage. . . . 
The Galilean Church even denied its sacraments 

* Carriasre of the dissolute. 

138 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

to theatrical artists ! and early laws classed them 
as " vagabonds." 

From Florence we proceeded to Nice, where 
my parents had settled with my sister Sabilla, the 
rest of the family visiting them from England, 
once or twice in the year. They came that summer, 
and Alfred brought me Mendelssohn's " Elijah " — 
that glorious novelty; at sight I sang and fell in love 
with " Hear ye, Israel," Alfred's nose bursting out 
bleeding with emotion. We hoped and had been led 
to believe that our children would be taken under 
the wing of my mother, but my father's relapse 
to melancholia made him object, and we had to 
reconstruct our plans for them when my profession 
obliged me to separate ourselves from them. To 
leave my children, from whom 1 had hitherto 
never been separated, whom I had never suffered 
servants to wash, dress, or walk with, whose every 
garment, except shoes, I had made with my own 
fingers, was the one terrible sacrifice I had to make, 
for their sakes, above all. 

Having signed a contract for Lisbon, we 
embarked in the autumn at Genoa on board a 
Portuguese ship, once English, the Royal Tar, under 
command to convey the opera companies to 
Lisbon and Oporto. A set of newspaper re- 
porters had been invited to make the trip, to 
propitiate them in favour of the impresario. 
These gentry invaded the best cabins, appropri- 
ating all comforts and necessaries out of the 

Voyage to Lisbon 139 

remaining cabins ; only when land was left behind 
did we discover that no mattress or covers were 
extant on the shelves called beds in the tiny cabin 
allotted to us, which we preferred to the larger 
cabin in common with others. On bare boards, 
therefore, I had to roll during the eight or ten 
days' journey, with our cloaks for coverings and 
our carpet bags for pillows. 

The sea kept fairly smooth, except in the bay 
of Marseilles, where it was rough and terrible, and 
I suffered dreadful sea-sickness — not so my hus- 
band, a born sailor, who loved boisterous waves. 
On board was also Mme. Stolz, of Paris fame, 
though now no longer engaged there as too old. 
Donizetti had composed for her " Favorita," " Don 
Sebastiano," and other operas, mostly crippled 
by her insufficient voice. On my wedding tour 
through Paris, I was present at the first night of 
this lovely ' Don Sebastiano ' with Stolz, Baroadet 
and Dupres, these latter admirable singers and 

At Gibraltar we landed, and passed twenty-four 
hours. Major C. and his wife were kindness 
itself, and took us to the Alameda, where the grand 
sunset with the African mountains, blue and 
glorious, remains a vision imprinted for ever on 
my brain. Next day they drove us to see the 
Commander-in-Chief's summer residence, and 
whilst the others went to see the higher defences 
— permitted only when in company of a superior 

140 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

officer in uniform — I remained alone, a rare luxury 
I greatly enjoy ; after a while, looking up at the 
wood-covered rocks, I saw, to my delight, whole 
flocks of monkeys frisking about, and when the 
party returned I was informed that monkeys 
though known to exist, are very rarely perceived, 
so that I was quite envied my good fortune by many 
who had lived for years on " the rock " without 
ever setting eyes on one. 

Towards evening we returned on board, the 
sea so rough it was not easy to get off the sailing 
boat up the side of the steamboat. The change of 
motion from the Mediterranean to the ocean 
waves brought on sea-sickness again after passing 
the Straits, so that I missed seeing Cadiz and the 
coast — to my great regret. 

At Lisbon we had to undergo the most thorough 
personal search any custom house (" cuss-damn " 
house, as my brother calls such !) ever inflicted, 
the women having to disrobe before a woman who 
examined each garment, and the men having to 
do the same before an official. Later this treat- 
ment was explained to us : the captain had 
smuggled a quantity of tobacco, which fact was 
suspected, and later discovered. This ignorant 
rogue was so little fit to direct his ship that an 
English cabin-boy, on board, confided to me that 
he had been taken on ship down the African coast 
as the only means of communication between the 
captain and the English stokers, but that he meant 

Lisbon 141 

to run away at Gibraltar. I not only begged him 
not to do so but gave him substantial inducements 
to remain, promising him more at Lisbon. Had he 
not remained, it has often haunted me what might 
have been our fate, and that of the ship ! 

A hospitable custom in Lisbon gave us all 
three or four days' lodging in some hotel, during 
which to find permanent abodes for our six months' 
stay. We were appointed to an hotel, once a large 
convent, kept by a French widow, Mme. Rade- 
gonde. This admirable godsend of a hostess kept, 
rather than a hotel, a boarding-house of old 
acquaintances of her husband, to whom she acted 
like a mother. She offered us a separate suite of 
rooms, to cook our meals and send them up to us ; 
we added a carpet and armchairs, which we left 
as a legacy to her, on our departure, on condition 
she herself should enjoy them — which I misdoubt 
she carried out ! All her boarders adored her, and 
we also followed suit very soon. 

Lisbon, so renowned as one of the three 
supremely beautiful positions in Europe — Con- 
stantinople and Naples being the other two — 
disappointed me ; but I grew to love it, and 
therefore to tolerate its hills covered by count- 
less windmills on the opposite shore of the wide 
Tagus. What, indeed, is incomparable is Cintra, and 
also CoUares and environs. W. Beckford's villa, 
*' Montserrat," immortalised by Byron, has be- 
come an utter ruin in an incredibly short time, 

142 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

not a door, window, or hinge remains, nothing but 
its cascades and paradisiacal beauties of nature, 
totally uncultivated nowadays. 

I began the season by singing "Beatrice di 
Tenda,"but the climate disagreed with me at once 
and brought on frightful biliousness. One evening 
I had a terrible attack, and after many hours' 
retching and no food, the doctor, called in by the 
impresario, certified to my inability to sing that 
night. Early though it was, the theatre was 
already crammed, the Queen Dona Maria da Gloria, 
the King-Consort and the Empress (widow) of 
Brazil being present ; no second opera was ready 
which could be substituted for " Beatrice," and 
the dilemma was a serious one to the poor impre- 
sario. To show my good will, I consented to be 
carried bodily, to the theatre, there to be dressed 
in the intervals of sickness, and make the attempt. 
Biliousness, though it weakens, acts on the voice, 
sweetening its tones, and I was able to get through 
the opera, but fainted at its end on the stage. 
Little do critical, well-wrapped up ladies, in their 
boxes, know of these heroisms — in their small 
way — so frequent behind the scenes ; draughts 
to be endured by singers in light draperies, whose 
colds and loss of voice are stigmatised as caprices, 
though to them meaning loss of money at the 
time, and possibly utter ruin, if that precarious 
treasure, their voice, be permanently injured or 

Portuguese Society 143 

The Papal Nuncio, Mgr. — later Cardinal — di 
Pietro, a perfect gentleman and very amiable, 
invited us to one of his very first receptions, 
where he became acquainted with Lord Bloom- 
field, and his wife, Lomonosoff, Russian minister, 
and most of the Corps Diplomatique, whose 
receptions we seldom missed from that time, as 
also the grand balls given during the winter by 
the premier, De Thomar, and his English wife, 
the Marquis de Viana, Count Farobo, and others. 
This last-named nobleman had a son-in-law, 
d'Acunha, an elegant singer and accomplished 
gentleman, who was one of the deputies at the 
opera-house, and his presence there smoothed 
many difficulties and made my position clearly 
and pleasantly defined. 

An excellent innovation, that year, was the 
strict prohibition to any one to enter behind the 
scenes, rendered necessary, I was told, by the 
boisterous conduct of non-sober officers off the 
numerous ships always in the harbour — of all 
nations, English ones preponderating. This rule 
was much resented, and a threat of hissing was even 
raised but never put in execution. Mme. Stolz 
sang in the Favorita and Arsace to my Semira- 
mide, she looked well in short tunic and her legs 
in silk tights, but her voice was wiry and deficient. 
The streets in Lisbon are as steep and narrow 
as in Genoa, and donkeys serve the same purpose 
as in Cairo ; ladies ride on them to go to dances. 

144 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

One of the handsomest women still, in society, 
was Dona Anna, a royal aunt, married to De 
Sontzo, also handsome. The poor Queen, a mould 
of unwieldy fat, her chins falling in countless bags 
like a beard of flesh, was said — when she waddled 
and shuffled into the presence, next her tall, thin, 
handsome husband — to represent the Portuguese 
arms : the Sword and the Tower ! (of Belem) . 
The King-Consort — cousin to Prince Albert of 
England — was an elegant musician and artistic in 
many ways ; he re-constructed, at Cintra, the 
ruined, exquisite, Arabian royal castle there. The 
old Duke de Saldanha, celebrated as head of the 
liberal revolution which brought Dona Maria to the 
throne, was in some way prominent in Lisbon, 
during my stay there, and when he came to the 
Opera, to show and receive demonstrations, I had 
to sing in Portuguese the hymn in his honour : 
'' O nobre Saldanha." . . . 

Count Farobo had a regal villa at Cintra, in 
which was a jewel of a theatre, where nobles only 
were invited to take a part. Here was to have been 
performed " La Part du Diable," by Scribe and 
Auber, but just as all was ready, the prima donna 
married and left. This caused great disappoint- 
ment, because d'Acunha and many others had 
prepared their parts, so Count Farobo requested, 
as a great favour, that when the opera season 
ended, and I became free to appear elsewhere I 
would, as Contessa Gigliucci, take the prima 

"La Part dii Diable " 145 

donna's part, and thus render possible the per- 
formance of this long prepared and desired " Part 
du Diable." I could hardly refuse after the end- 
less cordialities we had received from the entire 
society that winter, so we remained on a few weeks 
longer for rehearsals, partly at Cintra, and on the 
day fixed went early to the regal residence to pre- 
pare for the evening's performance. I had altered 
my part from a man's to a woman's on account 
of the costume, and only a slight modification in 
the dialogue was needed for this change. The 
jewel of a theatre had its separate Royal and 
Imperial box, at the back of which were rooms 
to retire in ; staircases wide and carpeted led 
below ; the pit was reserved for men only, a 
gallery of two rows of armchairs held the ladies, 
and above a sort of open gallery was free to both 
sexes, and was infinitely preferred by the young 
and unmarried. Between the acts, audience and 
performers all joined to dance, one or at most two 
dances, a quadrille or a waltz, servants handing 
refreshments, and afterwards playing for the 
dancers ; for a peculiarity of Count Farobo's was, 
that all his servants had to learn music, to play 
as band for his balls or as orchestra when private 
theatricals took place. A gasometer was in the 
park to provide the necessary illumination of 
theatre and villa ; a small " zoo " was there, an 
aviary, hothouses and greenhouses spacious as at 
Chatsworth, and other endless splendours. 


146 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 


From Lisbon we went by sea to England, 
arriving in the height of the first Exhibition. In 
proof how quickly public performers become a 
thing of the past, a lady said to my aunt, ** What, 
Clara Novello returned ? is she alive still ? " A 
joke with us all for years. I had been only six 
years out of sight and hearing. I fell into my 
old place at once, resuming my maiden name, but 
changing " Miss " into ** Madame," as I objected 
to the English habit of public performers con- 
tinuing to style themselves " Miss " though having 
children. One should respect one's profession or 
how can one expect others to do so, and every 
detail helps to correct prejudice. My example in 
this was imitated at once, mostly rather absurdly, 
" Madame " being used in place of " Mrs." even 
where the husband was English ! Imitators often 
are ignorant of what they blindly follow. 

The winter following I was engaged to sing in 
Madrid, at the Opera, and there, except for the 
glorious picture gallery, most of ni}^ illusions re- 
garding Spain and Spaniards left me. Passing 
through Burgos, I got a glimpse of its grand cathe- 
dral and the capital is evidently not the finest or 
most interesting town in Spain. I set to in 
earnest to learn Spanish, so similar to Italian as 
to create confusion, and in its pronunciation often 

Madrid 147 

so like German I was forced to give up exercising 
myself in this language with my German maid, 
as I knew it too little not to find the mixture of 
the two bewildering to my head and tongue. My 
short road to acquiring Spanish was to read it, 
writing out the words I did not know, and placing 
the translation found in the dictionary against 
each word, which list I learnt by heart ; besides 
this I wrote out one verb at least daily. I soon 
began to try my tongue on the people around, 
who, flattered at my efforts, helped me. Before 
our six months' stay had elapsed I was able to 
write in Spanish to the head of the Royal library 
for permission to see Isabella the Catholic's will, 
signed by her own hand (" Yo, la Reyna"), the 
splendid collection of coins, and many such trea- 
sures. A lovely Spanish poetess, Coronado, mar- 
ried to the secretary of the American legation. 
Perry, accompanied us. Women were granted 
entrance in theory but were kept out as a matter 
of fact, with the excuse that their presence dis- 
turbed students. I wrote saying that the Sovereign 
being a woman, it was outrageous to keep out 
women, and thus succeeded in obtaining entrance 
which sweet Coronado Perry never could, until 

During our sojourn in Madrid we had a curious 
specimen of Spanish dominion in Cuba : the 
waiter in our " pension," a fine, tall black, of 
especially pleasant manners, told us his sad story. 

148 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

A gentleman by station and of a wealthy family 
in Havana, his lovely young sister unhappily 
caught the fancy of a Spanish judge there, and as 
she resisted his infamous proposals, and her brother 
naturally opposed them, the judge, to rid himself 
of Gennaro, accused him of conspiring against the 
Government, had him seized, tied to a ladder, and 
flogged to bleeding, and in this state shipped him 
to Spain, together with others, to be judged there 
— the mere sea voyage a long torture. At Cadiz 
they were tried, and the best will to make out a 
strong case could only sentence them to two 
years' detention, at the end of which a first batch 
was sent back to Havana ; but here the accounts 
of ill-treatment undergone caused such a ferment 
that orders were sent to Spain not to allow any of 
the others ever to return to Cuba — arbitrary exile 
for no offence ! The prison governor took Gennaro 
as coachman, in which situation a kick from a 
horse broke his leg ; ill-set and neglected, this 
lamed him for life. After eighteen years, old and 
grey before his time, the craving for his native land, 
from which he was kept without any motive being 
alleged, made him seek and obtain leave to go to 
Madrid, in the forlorn hope that there, somehow, 
he might get redress and permission to return 

This terrible history so interested us that my 
husband endeavoured, through the Nuncio, to 
obtain Queen Isabella's consent for Gennaro's 

The Empress Eugenie 149 

return to Cuba, and so nearly succeeded that we 
longed to tell him ; but my husband wisely refrained 
until quite sure of success — fortunately ! or bitter 
would have been poor Gennaro's disappointment. 
In those very days, during a procession in S. 
Maria de Atocha, a Cuban, maddened by some 
flagrant iniquity, tried to stab the Queen ; the 
metal Order of the Virgin on her breast turned the 
blow and saved her life, but she forbad the name 
of Cuba ever to be pronounced thenceforward 
before her, and the Nuncio had not the courage 
therefore to intercede for Gennaro, as he had 
promised to do. 

On the opening of the Opera-house, a gala 
night. Queen Isabella kept a crammed house 
waiting above two hours I She was then twenty- 
two years old, and looked any age above that ; 
such animal eyes I never beheld, and I blushed 
only to look at her — a very pig's countenance. 
At a friend's request I brought back to England 
some coins with the Queen's profile, flattered be- 
yond recognition, which my friend would not and 
could not believe other than shameful calumnies ! 
In Madrid I heard a great deal about Eugenie 
de Montijos, and her sister the Duchess of Alba, 
who nightly occupied her stage box at the Opera ; 
endless were the anecdotes, useless to repeat here, 
rife about the former, but one of her sayings is 
worth recording because of after events so impos- 
sible to foresee, much less expect ; she often said. 

150 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

" I can never realise my vocation, for I feel that I 
am born to be an Empress ! " 

" La Noche buena " — Christmas Eve — else- 
where a holiday, opera is performed in Madrid, 
but travestied, men's parts are acted by women, 
etc. ; Angri, the contralto, profited by this curious 
fashion, to try if she could succeed in the role of 
Carlo v., in "Ernani." Unfortunately she was only 
accepted as a good joke, whereas she had hoped 
for a serious success, enabling her to repeat the 
part in Spain and elsewhere. 

During the season I sang in " Semiramide," 
" Giuramento," and Alice in " Robert le Diable." 
The climate of Madrid is disagreeable and danger- 
ous ; a subtle cold wind, proverbially said in Spain 
to extinguish a man though not extinguishing a 
candle, caught me one afternoon, though only 
walking the length of our house, and kept me 
eleven days in bed, and for long after my hitherto 
strong bronchial tubes felt the effects of it. At 
last the sighed-for end of our stay arrived ! we 
had counted the days, one by one, for a long time 

"Robert le Diable" requires much scene-shifting, 
and this was executed so slowly that the opera 
always concluded an hour or more after midnight. 
The impresario — a dire cheat, though decorated 
by the order of Calatrava — I had had many tilts 
with in his attempted frauds, telling him openh^, 
when he swore on his " honra " not to appeal to 

Departure from Lisbon 151 

that, for then I knew he was deceiving me ! — 
decUned, as usual, to pay the last quarter, so I 
threatened that if he did not, my engagement 
ending at midnight, I would cease singing at that 
hour and leave Robert to the Devil, unsaved by 
Alice ! However, as my husband and I were both 
anxious that our departure early next morning 
should in no way be delayed, I sang the opera to 
the end, only long after obtaining, and not in full, 
the last quarter. 

Alas ! what made us so anxious to depart was 
the news, received but few days previously, of the 
weak state of health of one of our children in Genoa. 
It was necessary to alter many things in regard 
to them, so it was settled that we should separate 
at Bayonne — renouncing all our plans for visiting 
Toledo, the Escurial, etc. — my husband proceed- 
ing direct to Genoa, through Languedoc, and I, 
alone, to London, to fulfil the many engagements 
which were to furnish the means ; for my husband's 
property beyond Tronto had been practically con- 
fiscated, and the part in the Marche, deprived of 
his supervision, gave hardly any returns. 

How little is taken into account what artists, all 
more or less, have to go through when obliged to 
sing or perform in public ; to smile while in great 
anxiety or sorrow, and to control emotion while 
singing or acting scenes to excite emotion ! But 
God helps all earnest efforts to bear what He sees 
fit to send if we ask His help. 

152 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

At the end of the season we went to Nice, and 
there hired a tiny villa — for twenty-five years 
empty — like a bonbonniere in a bouquet of olive 
and orange trees, quite near my parents and 

The winter following I sang at La Scala in 
Milan — my last theatrical engagement, my husband 
preferring, on many accounts, that I should keep 
entirely to oratorios, concerts, festivals, and the 
like. All his life through money was ever his 
least consideration, as he proved repeatedly on 
all occasions. At Milan I consented finally to sing 
Verdi's " Rigoletto," having till then always refused 
it on account of the man's attire in the last act ; 
but all exposure of person was obviated, in the 
costume arranged with my husband's help : a 
long, ample mantle thrown over a long tunic, and 
full trousers held at the knee by high boots with 
frilled leather tops, produced a costume more 
elegant and decent than many gowns ! This opera 
was my best and most successful one in Milan. 
Several operas have been written for me : " Fingal," 
by Coppola, successful ; " Cleopatra," by . . . 
laughed off the stage ; " Foscarini," by Coen, not 
bad nor ill-received, and others I forget. 

In summer we went to Dusseldorf, for the 
Festival, Schumann conducting ; he was begin- 
ning already to give signs of the sad mental illness 
which overcame him later, and was shy and strange 
in many ways. One evening a pretty incident 

The Crystal Palace 153 

happened : a number of nightingales came and 
perched on the high windows above the orchestra, 
and seemed excited to outsing Alceste's divine 
song — till the audience and I turned our attention 
in delight to them. 

Prince Albert, in London, had told Costa that 
the music with which the first Exhibition had been 
opened was below criticism, and that he desired 
that the opening of the newly removed, rebuilt 
Crystal Palace should have music better worth 
hearing. This put Costa in some embarrassment, 
for both in size and in its materials that building 
was totally unacoustic ; he came to explain his 
difficulties to me, and to ask my help, as he thought 
the quality of my voice would carry farther than 
most other ones. I consented to try, and we 
arranged to meet there one Sunday when it was 
empty, even of workmen. On arriving, we found 
Costa waiting, who gave me no time to be over- 
come by the vastness of the space, but made me 
a sign to begin " God save the Queen," from the 
entrance where I was standing, he remaining in 
the centre. The result surpassed his hopes, but 
to make doubly sure I told him and my party to 
go to the extreme opposite end, and when they 
had reached it I sang again, purposely altering one 
line of words, which alteration was distinctly heard 
by them, though I was hardly visible to the eye. 

Clara Novello told us — amused and rather gratified — 
how some weeks later, walking in the Crystal Palace 

154 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

gardens, a policeman saluted her markedly, and on her 
looking up inquiringly, said : " Please 'm, I'm the police- 
man who heard you outside, that day," meaning the day 
of the first trial. 

The following is from Lady Eastlake's journal : 
" Opening of the Crystal Palace — Sydenham, 1854 : 
Conspicuous in the great orchestra was the only lady 
singer; who sat in the centre of the lowest row. . . . Then 
Clara Novello pitched her voice and gave forth the first 
verse of * God save the Queen,' with a power and dis- 
tinctness which were marvellous ; her voice filled the whole 
space, and she waited with her notes until they had reached 
to the uttermost parts. It was a perfect triumph for 
her and no little proof of nerve thus alone and first to 
address the vast multitude, but her voice seemed to revel 
in the space before it. The way in which she articulated 
the words : ' the Queen,' was overwhelming." 

I opened most of the new town halls, the one 
in Leeds, also the one in Bradford, this latter then 
only ten years old as a town, farmhouses being 
still quite near to it, in one of which we lodged. 
Beards were so little worn, at that time in England, 
that the factory girls would mob the foreign 
artists who wore such, calling them to their faces 
** Nanny goat," and making noises in imitation 
of these. On the morning of the inauguration 
I met with an accident. I slipped right down 
the first flight of our stone staircase — nineteen 
steps — which had no banister, my body fortu- 
nately inclining towards the wall, otherwise I 

Liverpool 155 

should have been precipitated down the well, and 
broken my back at least. As it was my poor 
head bumped on each stone step, only preserved 
from being split by a thick tortoiseshell comb, and 
the great quantity of my own hair ; but my back 
ached severely for many weeks after. Neverthe- 
less, I sang that same day, and during all the 
festival, five mornings and four evenings, and for 
all the ensuing festivals of that season. 

The new Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool had 
a most effective novelty : hidden behind a cornice 
a continuous line of gas caused a light like day 
without offending the eyes ; it reflected on the 
painted ceilings, making the ** Lancashire witches " 
in the hall below look even prettier than usual — 
and most becoming to all. Something in the same 
style of illumination was to be seen in Lansdowne 
House, one of the few palaces in London ; the hall 
had wax lights between the grand old statues, but 
they would have been insufficient had not gas 
fans outside the second top row of windows 
thrown brilliant flames, without heat, into the hall ; 
the effect was splendid in all ways. 

During a State concert I sat opposite and quite 
near to Napoleon UL, looking, with his lead- 
coloured skin, like one just out of a fit or going 
into one, evidently pre-occupied, and hearing not 
a note. Dhuleep Singh, the Indian prince, was an 
exquisite tableau vivant, and seemed too per- 
fectly beautiful to be real ! Not so the several 

156 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

other oriental princes, there ; the King of Oude, for 
instance, was an ugly, stout little man. 

About that time — maybe in 1855 — the first 
aquarium was attempted in Regent's Park zoo- 
logical gardens, tanks of glass being filled with 
sea-water from Brighton. I was among those 
invited, one Sunday, to the first private view, and 
renewed there my acquaintance with Douglas 
Jerrold, present as one of the Press. His appear- 
ance made me fancy that ^Esop may have looked 
like that : a face flashing with overflowing wit and 
satire not to be suppressed and never meant to 
wound ; thus one never could feel hurt, but 
rather as honoured to be the cause of wit such as 
his, and to chance to be the anvil on which he 
struck out his sparks. As he stood, cramped by 
many pains — and troubles various, surrounded by 
the tanks containing the weird-looking, strange 
submarine creatures, dragged to view for the first 
time, he seemed part of them — a very wizard ! 

When Jenny Lind returned from America I was 
most interested to hear her sing. Chappell 
arranged a performance of " Elijah " and I sent for 
two tickets — a guinea each — but three were sent. 
. . . Her voice was not spontaneous, and pro- 
duced only with great effort ; a peculiarity in her 
singing was the effect it gave of her doing it alone, 
separately, as it were, from the rest, a solo, ever, 
accompanied by others, never amalgamating to- 
gether. The voice, on the contrary, should, in 

Jenny Lind 157 

concerted music, ever modify its tones according 
to those of the instruments in obbhgato — ringing, 
when with a trumpet, mellow with a violoncello, 
and so forth ; so that when passages occur, in 
thirds for instance, the ear should not be able to 
distinguish which is voice, and which is the obbli- 
gato instrument ; and great is the charm when 
this is obtained. Also in concerted vocal pieces, 
the several voices should seem as one, like an 
accordion or organ. In manners, also, Jenny 
Lind was peculiar ; at a State concert, once, she 
would not enter with or sit near us, nor have her 
accompaniments played by Costa, so her husband 
played to her singing one of Chopin's pianoforte 
compositions, to counterbalance which whim he 
played a derangement from Norma ; she, between- 
whiles, sitting behind the window curtains and 
speaking to no one. 

As in a procession I saw pass in turns old 
Bochsa, harpist, Mrs. Anderson, Mme. Dulcken, 
^Ime. Pleyel, Henselt — charming pianist and com- 
poser — and Prudent, the French pianist, who, 
disgusted at his cool reception, drolly described 
English preference for all that Germany threw on 
its shores each Spring in these words ; *' quand on 
est tres laid, tres sale et qu'on porte des lunettes, 
alors on est classique ! " — often true. 

Dickens* receptions in Tavistock Street were 
models of such ; not imitations of those of the 
aristocracy, but superior. I told him that his 

158 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

guests should, most of them, be ticketed, like 
plants in show places, as celebrities one ought to 
look at. There came Lord Lyndhurst, Thackeray, 
Wilkie Collins, Trollope, Barry Cornwall, Disraeli, 
Lord Carlisle, Brunei, Douglas Jerrold, Egg, Lemon, 
etc. One room, dedicated to music, had its quiet 
respected, but in other rooms one could listen to 
him or to other fine talkers present. Being 
requested to contribute by singing, I told him a 
song was prepared in the pocket of an overcoat in 
the anteroom. Returning with it presently, he 
said in his humorous way, ** Rather peculiar, 
eh ? for the master to be seen picking the pockets 
of his guests — very detrimental to the servants' 
morals ! '' He embarrassed me by asking which 
of his female characters I preferred ; but I promptly 
replied, " Oh, the highest in rank ranks first : 
the marchioness, of course." This pleased him, 
evidently, for upon this he took me into his 
sanctum, showed me several manuscripts of his 
works, and how he wrote, explaining his system : 
the chapters, in heads of matter, to be developed 
after, in each chapter, and the story carried along. 
He said to me he was sure the public had never 
had, from the reading of his books, a tenth part 
of the enjoyment he had had himself in the writing 
of them. I soon became almost one of themselves, 
at his readings made to sit among his family, and 
so forth. Alas ! a stop was suddenly put to all 
this by his unhappy separation from his wife, for 

Dickens 159 

as I did not choose to appear to side with him or 
with her I abstained altogether, to my deep loss 
and sorrow. 

Brunei's father I had only heard of when his 
tunnel (under the Thames) was begun and laughed 
at, then, as the folly of a French frog-eater I 
The son I knew well, a charming man indeed. I 
was one of the invited on the trial trip of his 
ill-fated colossal ship, Great Eastern, but thought 
it best to decline on account of my many engage- 
ments. Pleasure is mostly a risk, and usually 
incompatible with arduous duties to be fulfilled ; 
to this constant prudence I owe the satisfaction 
of having earned a name for reliability both with 
public and managers. Seldom was I disabled 
from fulfilling my engagements, though often I 
sang with racking, bilious sick headaches, which 
made the hall spin round till I risked falling, 
rather than fail those who counted on my appearing. 

Chorley, also, gave delightful receptions, where 
the company consisted entirely of lions and lionesses, 
Mrs. Gaskell among others ; Halle, Mme. Viardot, 
and the Sainton Dolbys would make music there, 
intimately, in a way one cannot ever hear in public. 
Sterndale Bennett would come there, also very 
pleasant, but awfully shy, to his own injury. 
The Honble. Mrs. Norton, as attractive as she was 
perfectly beautiful — not all beauties are attractive! 
— was always the chief ornament of the parties 
she attended. The celebrated Edwin Landseer, 

i6o Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

painter mostly of dogs and animals, whom I 
met often, asked me once to let him paint my 
portrait ; I told him that Italians call bad singers 
" dogs," did he mean the same ? ! 

The Duke of Devonshire was quite the most 
perfectly elegant and accomplished aristocrat I 
ever met, noble in face, in person, in demeanour. 
Only once was I able to accept his oft-repeated 
invitation to Chatsworth — that perfect place so 
characteristically like himself. We had Queen 
Victoria's rooms assigned to my husband and 
myself, where the walls were all tapestried by 
original drawings of the great masters. The 
dining-room below was adorned with family por- 
traits by Vandyke, painted by him for those very 
places ; eight statues by Canova were in the con- 
servatory opening out of one of the suites of rooms. 
I told the Duke I found some difficulty in reaching 
the dining-room. He interrupted to inquire if no 
page had been on the staircase to accompany me. 
To which I replied : Yes, but my difficulty had 
arisen from the distracting attractions of the 
endless sketches by great masters which lined the 
said staircase. 

This princely man kept three botanical students 
at a salary of £300 a year, travelling wherever they 
thought best for specimens of new flowers and 
plants to be sent to England. He discovered, so 
to say, Paxton — later Sir Joseph — when under- 
gardener at Kew, where the Duke often went, and 

Chatsvvorth 1 6 1 

where, if any inquiries he made required special 
knowledge, Paxton was always called. When, 
therefore, a gardener was needed at Chatsworth, 
he wrote to the director at Kew requesting that 
Paxton should be sent to him, and Paxton came. 
Sir Joseph's house at Chatsworth, the Duke 
declared, was preferable to his own. To see the 
endless hothouses we drove in the omnibus ex- 
pressly constructed to enter these magnificences ; 
here grew the water lily, Victoria Regia, in its 
separate pond, in a corner of which a tiny wheel, 
moved by machinery, gave movement to the water. 
This luminous idea of Paxton's caused the Duke's 
lily to prosper, whereas the three other examples, 
cultivated elsewhere in still water, introduced from 
Australia, where they grow in running water — all 
died. The enormous leaf had sustained Paxton's 
baby girl on it ! 

An orchestra of eighteen choice performers 
from London played after dinner, the Duke, with 
ear-trumpet, talking to me the while. I stupidly 
expressed my wonder at this, given his love of 
music. He sighed, saying, " I do indeed love it, 
and for a double motive : it is only while music is 
going on that I can hear well." I could have wept 
from pity and vexation at my blundering. 

When we look back from age at our youth, we 
come to judge ourselves then, as another person ; 
if too indulgently sometimes, this is counter- 
balanced by inward knowledge of black spots in us, 


1 62 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

unsuspected by others, and hidden by due shame. 
This accounts for the strange judgments of others, 
often severe to faults we do not acknowledge as 
existing in us, and sometimes causing us to smile 
sadly at praise we feel utterly undeserved. 

I have never cared for the many verses thrown 
to me nor kept any, except Charles Lamb's 
and Giovanni Prati's, who, at Padua, on my 
debut wrote some very pretty, sad ones ; as they 
contained a political fling at Austria, the police 
suppressed them, so they never appeared in any 
of his printed collected works. Nor did I ever 
retain, or care for, the endless certificates sent me 
as honorary member of quantities of societies — 
too often and easily conferred to have any flattery 
left in such an act. 

Clara Novello received during her life quantities of 
letters from celebrities : Rossini, Meyerbeer, Mercadante, 
Dickens, etc, ; but as she herself states, she was the reverse 
of a collector, and gave away these interesting autographs 
to almost any one who begged them of her, keeping only 
Lamb's verses, and a few of Rossini's letters containing 
friendly paternal counsels. The greater part of the 
autographs she possessed were given by her to her dear 
American friend, Mrs. George P. Marsh, in Turin, when, 
after the War of Secession, a monster bazaar was got up 
in America in aid of the wounded. The incredibly large 
sum realised by the sale of the autographs was a source 
of heartfelt satisfaction to Clara, who ever maintained, 
when allusion was made to having parted with such 

Florence Nightingale 163 

treasures, that the autographs could never have been used 
to better purpose. 

When the Crimean war broke out it took every 
one by surprise — people did not seem to credit 
the possibihty of such a thing. Italy's taking part 
in it was her first assertion of herself, and on 
Italians, on my husband, the effect was electrical, 
opening vistas unlimited. Cavour began to shine 
on the horizon — that revered, adored, unequalled 
giant ! Now and then the Almighty sees fit to 
show what He can create under the name of a 
man under His own image. (Alas ! how often this 
last is rendered incredible !) I saw him later, in 
Turin, and again in Chamounix, when he rushed 
away in despair over the Villafranca treason, 
brought about by Prussia's envy and fear of 

In this year we saw the largest comet, called 
Halley's, because he had announced its return at 
this precise date ; the superstitious insisted on 
seeing a connection between it and the war. 

Soon arose the fame of Florence Nightingale. 
As ever with superiority and extra, incomprehen- 
sible goodness, she was much criticised, blamed 
as unfeminine, as hunting for a husband (!), as 
inducing other ladies to " degrade themselves " 
in the same fashion. . . . Among the most cen- 
sorious, as usual, were the clergy ; but one of 
these received once a rebuke which he found 

164 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

unanswerable. Speaking of her, the reverend gentle- 
man said, in disparaging tones, " She is not a Church- 
woman ; what sect may she belong to ? " "To 
the extremely rare one of the Good Samaritan ! " 
was the answer. Long after her return, and when, 
as result of her labours, she had developed a terrible 
heart-disease, I went to sing to her, she having 
expressed a desire to hear me in " From Mighty 
Kings," which the public insisted on associating 
with Garibaldi, for whom Miss Nightingale had 
quite an enthusiasm. Knowing this, I wrapped my 
music in a tricoloured silk handkerchief, which 
she at once desired as I had foreseen, she giving 
me in exchange one of her holland bags for hospital 
purposes. I had it marked with her name, and 
put it among my treasures. Her charming cousin, 
H. Bonham Carter, then living with her, said to 
me, " After teaching us how to nurse, she now 
shows us how to be an invalid." Unable to lie 
at length, she sat propped up by cushions, before 
a big fire, an open window blowing in the damp 
evening wind (in London there is no air, only 
wind or fog and gas escape, mixed!). Between 
her eager questions she would fall back gasping, 
to my terror, and next day I was laid up from the 
effects of the strain in controlhng all outward 
emotion. Some days later she wrote me a long 
letter of six pages, full of highly interesting political 
matter, begging me earnestly to destroy it after 
perusal, and I obeyed, with what infinite regrets 

Cholera 165 

words cannot express, but I fully concurred in 
such precaution against the many who batten on 
what they can publish when death renders their 
prey defenceless. 

In the autumn of this year, 1854, the cholera, 
alas ! took my dear mother. I had left London, 
though begged to remain for one concert more, 
urged by some strange desire to return to Nice. 
I brought my mother a letter from my father — in 
Boulogne, by doctor's orders, for change of air — 
and this greatly pleased her. I sang to her, and 
in the evening she came to our villa near by. On 
leaving me, she said, " Were I to die to-morrow, 
I could not have spent a happier day than this one, 
for which I bless you/' — and it proved her last day. 
Summoned early next morning to her, the doctor, 
not knowing me, whispered, '* Don't tell the 
Signora Sabilla, but to you I say this is cholera — 
first case in Nice." Her general health was already 
so shaken that she had no strength to resist the 
illness, and she succumbed to it in a few hours, 
without pain, in my arms. 

As we were about to leave Nice, Sabilla had a 
slight attack of cholera, which delayed our de- 
parture. Arrived in London, she had a second 
attack ; my husband also was seized, and pre- 
sently I was down with it. It left me so weak 
that we believed it would be impossible for me to 
sing, as engaged, at three festivals, and in a tour 
of six weeks ; but to write and put off all these 

1 66 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

engagements seemed an undertaking more appal- 
ling still ; and as the doctor ordered country air 
where we were due, we just let things take their 
course. A sweet lodging with garden had already 
been secured in Worcester, and there we went, 
and in the garden, where I had a sofa taken, I 
would lie for hours ; nevertheless I was able to 
sing, though obliged to hold on to a chair whilst 

I noticed then for the first time, what has 
repeated itself in every recurrence of this epidemic : 
a sort of irresistible mania seizes every one to talk 
of nothing but it, its symptoms and every detail 
of it, however gruesome, though all doctors 
declare that such talk increases and even pro- 
duces the evil ; as a fact, when my first attack 
was just over, our landlady told me of a case 
having proved fatal on a sudden relapse, and a 
quarter of an hour later I had, myself, a relapse ! 
However, to my own surprise, and that of all 
those around me, I got through all the three or 
four festivals, and the subsequent tour of six 
weeks. I decided, on many accounts, not to wear 
mourning when I sang in public, resuming it, of 
course, between whiles, and for this I received, 
later, official thanks from the various committees, 
as the sight of the principal singer in deep mourning 
would, they declared, have added to the general 
prevalent gloom, by keeping the haunting subject 
constantly in the mind. 

offer for America 167 


When in early summer we returned to Nice, 
I was able to rest, but I was so run down that the 
doctor ordered me the hot iron baths of St. Didier, 
in the Valle d'Aosta ; thither we went, and these 
miraculous, almost unknown waters, completely 
restored my strength, since which first visit we 
have often profited by their restorative powers, 
delighting also in the lovely place. 

Early in the year I had had offers to visit 
America, but dreaded the sea too much to close 
with any. At last, so large were the terms offered 
me for a nine months' tour, that I considered it 
my duty towards my children not to decline. 
Inexperience made me insist, however, that these 
terms should be assured me for two years to 
indemnify me for the double sea- journey, the cost 
and trouble of breaking up our establishment in 
Nice, and placing our children with due stability 
in their various schools. On this point a telegram 
from America was to decide, yes or no. Whilst 
we were in St. Didier it arrived — " No " — and in 
my selfishness I rejoiced deeply, though the large 
sum thus declined made a serious difference. 
Never in my life, however, have I had such a 
signal favour ! A clause in the contract specified 
that, any circumstance of " force majeure " 

1 68 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

intervening, the contract would be null and void, 
and as the American war broke out just about, and 
after, the time I should have arrived there, had 
I accepted I should have made the two sea 
journeys in vain, and upset all my professional 
engagements in England, not to speak of my 
children's unsettlings and resettlings ; — I have 
seldom thanked God more intensely ! I had 
overcome my cowardice and accepted, but had 
been mercifully prevented undergoing the severe 
trial and suffering, and financial loss besides. 

In 1859 the War of Independence broke out in 
Italy. The English have always sympathised 
with Austria, and even during this war they 
expressed their vexation at Austria's constant 
defeats, openly, even to Italians ; but the year 
after, when Italy rose up against her other tyrants, 
great and small, English sympathy all went with 
her. On the day after the battle of Castel Fidardo, 
which rang the downfall of Papal rule in the Marche, 
my husband, who carried his nationality plainly 
written on his face, went to his club, and there 
an Englishman, a total stranger, came towards 
him, and handing him the paper which contained 
the news of Lamoriciere's defeat, shook him 
heartily by the hand. Given the unique reserve 
of the English, such demonstrativeness towards an 
unknown stranger was clear indication of the 
general feeling. 

When it was announced that the liberated 

Retirement 169 

provinces were called on to vote for annexation 
to Piedmont, my husband rushed over from 
England to Fermo — his return to it after eleven 
years' absence quite a triumphal entry — and there, 
at the head of all his peasants, he and they voted 
in favour of annexation, one of the greatest joys 
of his whole life. 

Our motives for my remaining in the pro- 
fession having ceased to exist, I closed my artistic 
career in November, i860. 

At Nice the French entered, taking it and 
Savoy, though only the half had been fulfilled of 
what Louis Napoleon had promised Cavour and 
Italy in return for these two provinces. We 
therefore left Nice, and tried Genoa for a year, 
my brother, also, leaving Nice at the same time, 
selling his villa there, and purchasing in Genoa 
an exquisite ancient villa, which I discovered 
while house-hunting, and which is now called 
Villa Novello. 

In spring of 1861 we both revisited Fermo, 
after nearly twelve long years' absence on my part. 
I found my contemporaries in my own station of 
life had all, more or less, worn well ; not so, alas ! 
our peasants, become — the women especially — 
aged beyond recognition. The principal cause of 
this, in the last-named — besides labours often too 
rough for their sex — is the habit, become a law, 
that three days after childbirth they not only rise 
from bed but carry all their linen on the head 

170 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

to the river, often at some distance, there to 
wash it. 

My husband being elected member of Parha- 
ment, was obhged to be in Turin, then the capital, 
so I induced him to take us all there ; he rather 
feared its cold climate for the children, accus- 
tomed to the warm one of Nice, but risked it in 
compliance with my strong desire to be all together. 
I used to complain to him, in joke, that I no longer 
had a husband, but only a member ! The removal 
to Turin was a complete success, for its climate, far 
from harming, absolutely strengthened the health 
of our children. 

Count Gigliucci, besides being returned member, was 
elected one of the eight secretaries of the House, in 
which capacity he had the honour and unspeakable joy, 
on the 2ist March, 1861, of affixing his name to the reso- 
lution which declared Italy a United Kingdom under 
Victor Emanuel II. — a joy which amply compensated him 
for all past trials, sufferings and loss. 

Here I retired absolutely to revel in the 
delights and duties of home, which I had so long 
foregone for love's sake. Only very gradually 
did I begin to make acquaintances, some few of 
whom became valued, life-long friends — that rarest 
of treasures. . . . Castiglia, fellow-prisoner with 
Silvio Pellico, whose beautiful face crowned with 
silver hair brought to mind a saint's head with 
aureole, — Giovanni Arrivabene, Carlo Poerio, " the 

The Risorgimcnto 171 

adorable Baron," Manzoni, d'Azeglio, Ricasoli, all 
assembled in Turin, a very phalanx of rare and 
choice spirits, varied individually yet completely 
at one in noble end : Italy's unity and rise. 

Our summers we now passed in old Fermo, 
with an occasional month in St. Didier, and our 
winters in Turin. These years, spent in Turin, 
were the happiest of my whole life, happy in my 
husband's joy and boundless hopes, which I 
shared. ... I, never ambitious for myself, was 
very much so for those I best loved — husband, sons, 
and daughters . . . 

First and foremost among the friends I then 
made was dear Mrs. George P. Marsh, wife to the 
American minister, " my dear perfection," as I 
called her. When the capital was transferred to 
Florence, we met again there, and again in Rome, 
after 1870. 

Great was my disgust, and that of many others 
besides myself, when the capital was suddenly, 
and rather mysteriously it appeared, removed to 
Florence. Rome, as the necessary key-stone of 
Italy's unity, was always talked of, but as of 
some far off " bright particular star " none believed 
they should live to see. My husband disliked the 
climate of Florence, and on many accounts 
decided it was best to return to live permanently 
in Fermo. Our eldest son entered the army, our 
second, a military school. For our girls we had 
first an English governess, and afterwards a 

172 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

German one, procured us by the Mendelssohns in 
Bonn. Fraulein J. proved one in a thousand in 
most ways, and in teaching and knowledge beat 
most professors hollow; but oh, what trials mothers 
go through, never taken into account, whilst those 
of governesses are so bemoaned ! A tragic muse, 
let loose about the house, represented most nearly 
Fraulein, J. ! taking umbrage where only kind- 
ness was intended, insisting on seeing letters 
meant only for a mother's eye, outraged because 
begged not to set up her " tabernacle " per- 
manently where friends came to discuss their 
private affairs with me, in despair because when 
a French governess was needed to perfect the girls' 
French she was not invited to remain as com- 
panion to me (why ? !) . . . Nevertheless she re- 
mained to the end of her life our honoured friend, 
and more than once came on visits to us. 

Our return to Fermo caused a revival of its 
once greater social brilliance ; once a week we 
received, had music, after which dancing. At 
some of these meetings Marini and Briccialdi, 
both celebrated flautists, played ; Ludovico Grazi- 
ani. Fagotti, and many another celebrity sang, 
sometimes with me and also with my daughter 
and younger son ; our cousin, Contessa V., an 
excellent pianist, also gave help, and often the 
roofs outside were crowded with listeners. 

The War 173 


Both our sons took part in the war against 
Austria, the elder as officer, the younger running 
away from college to join Garibaldi ; this, to 
ensure a chance of fighting, in which he suc- 
ceeded, gaining the " menzione onorevole " at the 
sharp fight of Vezza, instead of being made to 
spend some months in barracks, learning ! We 
visited both sons to impart a blessing, our elder 
near Mantua, our younger at Varese, and then 
went to Genoa, where a friend. General Garavelli, 
being in command there, could give us the latest 
news and telegrams as the war proceeded. It was 
an awful time and tried one's patriotic enthusiasm 
to the quick. I prayed for and was granted calm, 
outwardly, as long as uncertainty lasted, but broke 
down when the war, in July, was practically over, 
and for many months after my health felt the 
effects of the strain. 

The winter of 1868-69 we passed in Florence. 
The decline and fall of the Fine Arts made itself 
felt first in music — that staff of life to Italians. 
The last opera which created a real genuine thrill 
was Gounod's " Faust," which I had gone purposely 
to Florence some years previously to hear, weep- 
ing nearly all through ; Stigelli, the tenor, was 
perfect. Singers became so rare, I went later 

174 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

from Fermo to Macerata, to hear Galletti in 
" Favorita " ; a fine singer and actress, and though 
much worn had still " good pickings " about her— 
as was said of James the author ! E. Bellincioni 
has artistic feeling, as well as sweet voice, face 
and style. . . . 

When the French " sbirri " were called away 
from Rome to a less degrading employment, 
Papal misrule collapsed at once, like all thorough 
rottenness. Like other longed-for things the pos- 
session of Rome, as capital of Italy, once obtained, 
caused as much embarrassment as startled joy. 
Had Cavour been alive, doubtless the conduct of 
affairs would have been very different, but Cavours 
are not plentiful at any time, and though good 
men and true did their best, nobly — opposed as 
ever by the '' sinisters," greedy for power and 
spoil — mediocracy* devoured by envy, little by 
little got the upper hand. 

On Rome becoming free, my husband naturally 
wished to witness its resuscitation, and we all went 
there the winter of 1870-71, the great Tiber 
overflow causing us to delay somewhat. 

In the spring we returned to Fermo by way 
of Naples, to show it to our daughters, and to 
revisit it ourselves after our wedding tour in 
1843-44. Our stay here was rendered so dis- 
agreeable by incessant deluges of rain that we 
shortened it and returned home, where we were 

* Word self-coined. 

Roman Society 175 

surprised by snow, though shght, whitening all 
around. Next day we went up to the Duomo, 
where a crowd attended a grand benediction by 
the Cardinal-Archbishop. The heat was great, 
and coming out into the sharp evening air my 
husband took cold ; severe bronchitis ensued, with 
relapses, and when he finally rose from bed he was 
changed to an elderly man, and it was necessary 
for the future to winter out of keen Fermo air. 
The climate of Rome suited best his health, and 
being the centre of political interests, suited his 
tastes and intellect. Since 1871 we have never 
wintered elsewhere, the more so that when he 
consented to stand again he was again returned 

... I early made the pleasant acquaintance 
of Mrs. J., mother, by her first marriage, of the 
author, Marion Crawford ; and soon after of the 
S.'s. W. S. was an enchanting companion, and in 
their house his clever devoted wife assembled all 
who were worth seeing and knowing in, or passing 
through, Rome. On the top of the Barberini 
palace their apartment included an elegant theatre, 
in which he with sons and daughter acted. Once, 
after a crowded reception, he threw himself into 
an armchair, declaring he felt **like an exhausted 
receiver." Of Geneva he said the motto should 
be, " Watch and pray ! " But it would fill pages 
to repeat his witticisms. 

In 1873 I had the happiness of knowing Mrs. 

176 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

W. Grey, and her sister. Miss E. Shirreff, of educa- 
tional and literary celebrity, and they both 
became, almost from the first, dearest of friends. 
For them, in delicate health, and rarely able to 
attend concerts or theatres, I took to singing 
again, and Mrs. Grey's birthday, 7th of March, was 
always kept musically ; sometimes Sgambati joined 
us, sometimes a cousin of ours who played the 
violin. Some rare times I sang also in my own 
house, for a few friends, at their special request. . . . 

The following letters were written by Clara Novello 
to Mr. and Mrs. J. Field of Philadelphia, by them pre- 
served and with rare delicacy returned to her daughter 
on the death of Mr. Field. A selection from a great 
number is here given, as the letters, written to cheer a 
sick friend, and in the belief that that object once accom- 
plished they would go to the waste-paper basket, give 
some notion of Clara Novello's life in those years, as well 
as an insight into her character, her opinions and tastes. 

March, 1875. 

Dear Friends — How can I thank you sufficiently 
for the many pleasures of this brightest of days 
in the Fields ! For a long time the sweetness of 
it will counteract the worries of this life. God 
bless you both, dear, refreshing souls ! 

Bad News 177 

May, 1875. 

So you know the fatal news.* I have just 
seen the dear Marshes ; fancy H. inquirmg for 
news of the steamer, and being told there was no 
news of it, adding : " Are you not getting anxious 
about Carrie ? " Mrs. Marsh replied, '' There is 
always a certain amount of anxiety over travellers 
especially by sea." The doctor has told them 
that if the awful truth were told H. it might kill 
her, in her present state, so I suggested — against 
my own feeling, having no belief in lies ! — if they 
would not devise some tale, with which to deceive 
H. temporarily ; but Mrs. Marsh seems to think 
that any falsehood would be a sort of taking 
things into mortal hands against the trials sent by 
the Almighty. This is precisely my own feeling, 
still, when the case is that of a sick girl who would 
die of the blow the truth would give^the doctor 
says — I'm afraid I should be tempted against all 
principle and faith. God help, direct, and sustain 
them ! What humility such lessons teach us, 
seeing our total inability to relieve those one would 
sacrifice so much to help in however small a way. 
We must turn to Him in our sorrows ! 

June, 1875. 

Mr. Story's bust of Keats is very spirited; it 
is Mrs. Lawrence's commission. Going to see 

* A niece of Mrs. Marsh, coming to her from America, was lost in 
the Schiller, wrecked off the Scilly Islands, whilst another niece, H., 
lihen living with her, was lying dangerously ill with typhus. 


178 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Mr. Warrington Wood's medallion of Keats, we 
found him and his wife in the midst of the annual 
little fete given to all the employes of his studio. 
First they were all photographed in a group, then 
a maccaroni feast, finally a dance in the moonlight, 
to mandolins and guitars. The W.'s insisted on 
our sitting for a group with them, and as usual 
we are horrors. Yesterday the W/s left for 
England, indeed, all who can leave us here the 
reverse of " high and dry ! " . . . The S.'s told 
us friend John * was in Venice, so he must have 
met and enjoyed the society of the lovely loveable 
Lawrence and Chapman sisters. Mrs. D. gave 
me lately good news of lovely Mrs. Lawrence, that 
Greek statue and genial-hearted woman — God's 
last, and therefore best, work ! 

Rome, 2nd March, 1875. 

Dear Mme. la Comtesse, 

I have ordered the copies you require of the 
photograph,! and have written to Mrs. Cowden Clarke 
about them. I return her letter with best thanks for 
allowing me the perusal of it. Mr. Warrington Wood 
has kindly undertaken to execute a model of the medal- 
lion (Keats) gratis, merely charging the cost of its transfer 
to marble. I send you a sonnet on the sketch of Keats,, 
inspired by Mrs. Cowden Clarke's letter. 

Yours very truly, 

Vincent Eyre. J 

* Mr. John Field's family belonged to the Society of Friends, there- 
fore Clara addressed him thus playfully. 

t Keats, sketch by Severn. 

X It was owing to the exertions of General Sir Vincent Eyre, V.C, 
that winter, that a memorial tablet was placed on the house in the; 
Piazza di Spagna where Keats died. 

Plans for Travel 179 

December, 1875. 

The railway being lately opened all the way, 
we shall go, later on. Darby and Joaning to 
Taranto, Rcggio, cross to Messina, Taormina, 
Syracuse and back, then, alas ! perforce, by sea 
to Palermo, then perhaps Girgenti and back to 
Naples, Amalfi, Paestum, all unknown to me ; the 
trip is an old longing of my gipsy heart — we shall 
see if it can be carried out ; if only in part, it will 
be delightful, and if not at all, one can hardly be 
disappointed at my time of life ; the planning 
will have been pleasant, at all events. Meanwhile, 
I trot about as usual, long walks being my best 
medicine, in Rome especially, for digestion, besides 
forcing one out of oneself — that troublesome in- 
truder ! I usually choose the hour of i p.m. as 
quietest, when the tramways cease from troubling 
and the tourists are at lunch. Excuse the parody, 
which came out involuntarily ! I certainly intend 
no irreverence. 

The S. marriage is to take place at Christmas, 
but only civil and Protestant, as Sigr. P. cannot 
get the Catholic rite performed except at such a 
price he cannot, or will not, pay it. How dis- 
gustingly scandalous to me, as a Catholic, is all 
this sale of Sacraments ; Judas did repent, nay 
hang himself, but these people only follow his 
example half-way, and enjoy the thirty pieces — 
thirty times increased — Lord forgive them ! Do 

i8o Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

you know Miss Foley the sculptress ? interesting 
as a woman and as a clever artist ; I rejoice 
to tell you her exquisite fountain is to form the 
centre ornament of the agricultural section of the 
Philadelphia Exhibition. She has been in great 
trouble over a pupil, whose nose has been all but 
bitten off by a huge dog suffering from ulcers, 
which the poor girl in caressing the beast inadver- 
tently touched, ignoring he had any. The pain 
was nothing to the agony of fright that the dog 
might be mad ; however, a young Scotch lady, 
accidentally present, a perfect heroine, at once 
sucked the wound till the doctor arrived and 
sewed on the nose, fortunately still hanging to 
the face. The poor victim had actually tried, at 
first, to burn and cauterise the wound by herself, 
thereby only making the wound far more terrible 
for the heroine who sucked away basins of blood — 
rinsing her mouth with quite hot water between 
whiles — and thus saved all danger to the poor 
girl, even had the dog been mad, said the doctor 
— at the risk of her own safety. Is it not a fine, 
brave, action ? 

The excavations in Rome now stop all passage 
even on foot. The new Via Nazionale is also 
progressing, Antonelli's house is down, and the 
part of the Aldobrandini gardens which is to 
come down already walled off. Old Tevere came 
out of his bed lately, making the Pantheon stand 
in a lake : he was as unwelcome as most 

Sicily 1 8 1 

over-frisky elderlies are, so wisely retreated after 
reminding the talkers to do more towards improving 
his proper place. Will they take the hint at the 
Municipio ? I doubt it. I declare that geese 
having once saved the Capitol, the Romans, out 
of gratitude, have installed them there, defini- 
tively ! 


4th March, 1876. 

(On return from Sicily). . . . We railed nine- 
teen hours from lovely Taranto to Reggio, there 
being no decent sleeping-place in between. What 
a melancholy, desolate, waste region ! once so 
exquisite, and might be so again if again cultivated. 
Reggio is charming, and the view thence of Sicily 
. . . magical ! We crossed to smiling Messina, 
but once in Sicily two troubles began, which never 
left us all the time we were there ; low, cloudy 
weather, preventing any peep of Etna, and a 
slight indisposition of mine. " Effetto del tempo," 
say my friends, to console me ; ay, but . . . del 
tempo passato ! * At last, in Catania I called in 
a doctor, a comical old German, who prescribed 
some remedy, instructing me "to ead a liddle 
bid of Mm ! " After Syracuse to Girgenti, mostly 

* An untranslateable play on the word "tempo," which, like the 
French "temps," signifies both time and weather. 

1 82 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

by rail, but we drove also, four hours, where rail 
does not meet, in the very heart of brigandage, 
and had therefore a mounted escort. The won- 
derful five Greek temples compensate infamous 
lodging, eating and journey, nevertheless we were 
delighted to find ourselves safe and sound back in 
civilised Palermo. I being upset, ditto the weather, 
we had to give up Taormina. Now I must leave off, 
for the girls are musicating, and my thirsty soul 
attends to them to the detriment of any sense in 
this letter. 

April, 1876. 

. . . We have been concocting a plan concerning 
you during friend John's absence ; if not too far 
distant, would you not come to spend the time in 
the Marche, with us, between Fermo — the old 
cockloft — and San Benedetto on the sea ? We 
would try to make you forget dullness, and as for 
practising (on the piano) you can do so as much as 
you feel inspired in both places ; there now, what 
say you ? . . . the dates coincide comfortably 
enough, you can substitute us for the convent, 
and me for la Mere Superieure ! Lovely views 
there are in plenty, and we will promise, also, not 
to convert you ! ! . . . Those dear Marshes, besides 
all their literary labours and arduous life in general, 
have lately been hard at work hunting ! — yes, 
I'm not mad — and caught a baby ! ! being all but 
"in at the death," as the huntsmen say! This 

A Monster 183 

is how : an American lady of birth and wealth, has 
a mania for obtaining children under the plea of 
rearing them to honourable professions ; some 
years ago a poor little girl of nine was rescued from 
her torturings and placed in the orphanage in 
Florence. Lately Dr. Nevin told the Marshes 
that this same woman — she hardly merits the name 
of woman ! — had a poor Swedish babe she — who 
is sixty-seven ! — is rearing as a future courier for 
herself, and ill-treating under the name of Spartan 
education, that she had been turned out of several 
hotels because the people could not stand the 
cries of the child whom she starved, tied naked 
to a chair, put to sleep on the brick floor, etc. 
The police, the Marshes, and the Swedish minister, 
after long labour rescued the poor little fellow, 
who can just toddle and can't talk, and is appa- 
rently about twenty months old. Surely such a 
fury, if mad, should be kept where she cannot 
torture more victims, and if bad, should be flogged 
and fined ! I never saw a more touchingly lovely 
sight than this tiny perched on Mr. Marsh's knee 
while the latter played tricks to call smiles on the 
pale tear-stained little face as he had caused 
smiles to enter that miserable little life. 

184 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 


March, 1877. 

Sgambati has been so busy rearranging the 
Accademia di Sta. CeciHa that he gave us no 
concerts till the 15th. He played Beethoven's 
" Appassionata " and his Concerto Op. ']Z^ divinely. 
Me he satisfies more than any pianist I hear of 
late, not only by his masterly playing but by his 
quiet, which gives one a sense of repose and cer- 
tainty. Those who seem to work so hard — like 
a ship in a storm ! — trouble me. Art should oil 
one's soul, as a friend of mine expressed it. Is 
not music the only one of the Fine Arts admitted 
into heaven ? Angels play and sing — who ever 
hears of their painting or sculpturing ? ! The one 
feeble attempt I made to sing this winter, was for 
dear Mrs. T.'s birthday — quite a surprise to all, 
to none more than myself. 

Clara Novello speaks of a " feeble attempt," but her 
voice, then and for many years after, was as powerful 
and ringing as in her young days. In proof of this the 
following appeared in an English paper in 1890 : " Miss 
Fanny Davies writes from Rome : ' I must tell you of 
a great treat we had the other day ; Clara Novello, now 
Contessa Gigliucci, sang to us. Although seventy-one 
years old she has still her wonderful voice — as clear as 
a beU, and she sang as I never heard any one, " O rest 
in the Lord," an air by Handel, and a charming little 

Voice in Old Age 185 

song by Veracini, with little shakes and trills all really 
sung and not wobbled. It was a most artistic treat. Her 
singing reminds me of Fran Schumann's playing.' " 

In early womanhood a celebrated surgeon, examining 
her throat, told her her singing powers would be unim- 
paired at eighty, should she live to that age — a prediction 
fulfilled to the letter. She sang for others, the last time, 
when she was eighty-three, taking the first part in " Lift 
thine eyes," and, save for a little huskiness once or twice, 
the result of not having sung a note for over a year, her 
voice was as steady and limpid as of old. But to the 
very end, when she was verging on ninety, she would 
sing to herself snatches of old tunes in a voice so marvel- 
lously fresh and steady, it was an ever-recurring amaze- 
ment to those around her. The unusual preservation 
of her voice was doubtless owed in great measure to 
never having strained it beyond its compass ; she avoided 
music of an exhausting construction, and even sup- 
pressed in her opera contracts such composers as she 
judged to have written un- vocally. 

The new quarters in Rome progress steadily, 
so that you would hardly recognise the places ; 
everywhere strings of endless carts make driving 
a difficulty and an undertaking, and walking still 
more so, to avoid being taken under — excuse stupid 
attempt at a joke. Whop ! shout the drivers ; 
but it is all very well to say hop ! to an old lady, 
but not at all easy for her to execute ! As for 
driving, the danger is nearly as great, especially as 
I have at present what I call my tiro a quattro 

1 86 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

(four in hand) two horses and . . . two donkeys, 
on the seat ! Though why that intelhgent, much- 
abused animal should represent a stupid mortal 
I never could make out. I always think the 
sobbing bray of a donkey is the pent-up misery, 
bursting out at last, of centuries of ill-usage ! . . . 
Story has built large studios near the Piazza dell' 
Indipendenza, and Monteverde had done likewise. 
I entered M.'s to see his monument to Bellini, in 
Catania, which promises to be a grand thing. On 
the pedestal are four statues, two female and two 
male figures, representing respectively Norma, 
Sonnambula, Pirata, and Puritani. I have per- 
suaded him * to put for Norma Pasta's portrait, 
for Sonnambula Malibran's, Tamburini for Puritani, 
and Rubini for Pirata ; these great singers' faces 
and persons represent excellently each character, 
besides the operas having been written for them, 
except indeed Malibran, but she made "Sonnam- 
bula " her own, though wTitten for and first sung 
by Pasta, whom it did not suit. ... I have been 
able to lend him two portraits of Malibran, one a 
watercolour by a friend, representing her in the 
last scene of " Sonnambula " and given me at 
Malibran's death — exactly like her. 

All this week we dine early to attend the Tene- 
brae service, in the Lateran, hearing the grand old 
Psalms ! Alas ! they are spoiling the fine old 

* He changed his mind, later. 

Church Music 187 

church — Heaven enhghten them in this and many 
other more important Church matters. It was a 
great disappointment when we returned to Rome 
in 1871 to find all the Easter *' funzioni " had 
been abolished, together with the divine " Mise- 
rere " of Palestrina ; however, I had my wicked 
little bit of revenge, for I asked one day a priest 
in St. Peter's when the " Miserere" would be sung, 
and he, looking very sour, answered, " Since 
1870 there is no more ' Miserere.' " " Indeed," 
I said, looking innocently inquiring, "is it always 
Te Deum, ever since ? " He looked astonished 
I can tell you. There is a dreadful friar with a 
fine loud voice, all are running after here. I was 
induced to go one day, but such an indecent 
bawling and shouting of music fit for a cafe 
chantant I have seldom listened to ! out of tune 
and time ! . . . I rushed out after the first piece. 

Clara Novello's profoundly religious feeling caused 
her to feel particularly indignant over profane music in 
church, or profane rendering of sacred music. " I never 
go to High Mass," she would say, " because it makes 
me feel so irrehgious. I only pray for one thing the 
whole time : that it may soon be over ! " When Miss 
Muloch wrote that Clara Novello's singing of " I know 
that my Redeemer liveth " is a declaration of faith, she 
stated a literal truth. Clara's fervent religious belief was 
one of her distinguishing characteristics, and she sang 
sacred music emphatically to the honour and glory of 
God, and indeed never raised her voice in song without 

1 88 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

a feeling of intense and glad gratitude to Him for this 
great gift ; she often said, in her whimsical way, " To be 
well paid for doing what one loves beyond all things is 
a piece of good fortune which falls to the lot of very few, 
I think." 


Fermo, September, 187S. 

All the world and his wife have been, or are 
going, to the Paris Exhibition, but I own, all the 
Exhibitions I've seen, have had the effect on me 
of an over-piled plate of food set before one, 
turning away appetite without satisfying. I have 
no more the desire than I have the power to go 
there — although a trip to Paris, aye and to London, 
at its quietest, would be one of my dreams of 
delight — and will remain such, doubtless. " No," is 
the most important word to learn, and should be 
constantly practised on ourselves. Women need 
it most, and help themselves with it oftenest — 
and if they do not, they often pay dearly, their 
lives long ! 

We are spending a peaceful time here, occa- 
sionally driving of an evening to the sea-side, 
meeting some cousins there, and dining together 
in the Stabilimento, then driving home by moon- 
light — quite the best part of the entertainment. 
I am never bored when alone and quiet ; some- 
times, nay ofttimes, when in so-called places of 
amusement (?) and in more promiscuous crowds 
of people, miscalled society, how lonely and forlorn 

Sgambati 189 

I often feel — how longing to be off — safe out — and 
at home ! 


August, 1880. 

That marvellous woman, dearest Mme. H., 
good as she is gifted, is hardly justified in dosing 

one with 's music, however wrapped in the 

compensating sweetness of her playing ; such 
artisans are not artists, only good shoe and sausage 
makers gone astray from their true vocations, 
more's the pity, and it is a mistake to encourage 
their delusions. ... I have felt almost like an 
American about President Garfield (attempt on 
his life). The interest I felt from the first has 
increased daily by reading of the elevated simple 
grandeur and heroic bearing up of the President 
and his worthy helpmate. Such people console 
one as a counterbalance to the mob of demi- 
monde which jostles one, and which I call — under 
my breath ! — the dammy-monde, or Italian im- 
mondo ! 

To the " divine creature," alias Sgambati, all 
sorts of tenderness from his enthusiastic old 
admirer, also " saluti " to his handsome wife. 
Fancy your playing whist with that clever old 
worldling Liszt ! clever so many ways besides his 
music, most of which seems more scientific than 
delightful — to me at least. But why you, who are 
never cross otherwise, will cross your writing, so 

190 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

difficult, even when not crossed, and as paper is 
not dear or difficult to be found, and Rowland 
Hill — bless him ! — has bestowed on all an almost 
unlimited weight for letters — is a mystery to me 
and the only fault I know in you ! I trust you can 
read my handwriting, always so wretched that as 
a girl Rossini used to tell me, " When you cease to 
write Chinese, I'll reply to you ! " 


Rome, January, 1884. 

We are here. Darby and Joan, fairly well in 
health. We came on the 2nd, as my husband is 
on the committee for his province, for the honours 
to be rendered to Victor Emanuel in the 

. . . Rome is being built and knocked down 
out of all belief, proportion, and reason ; uncouth, 
seven-storied, barrack-like buildings, of mean 
lines and stucco smartness oppress one on all 
sides. Adieu beauty, venerable trees, ruins and 
distances, painted by the slanting yellow rays of 
the setting sun ! Expensive ugliness seems the 
aim in all things, nowadays, and this aim is, alas ! 
too often attained. Among the few compensations 
two splendid bronze statues have been discovered 
at the end of the Colonna gardens ; both are fine, 
the seated one quite the most life-like statue I 
ever saw. 

Friends 191 

Upon Story's dear old villa garden are now 
crowded six or more tiny houses, or " Villini," 
which I call villainous ; these sort of mongrels 
have, to my mind, all the inevitable inconveniences 
of the country with all the drawbacks of a town, 
and possess none of the many delights of either ! 
... Mrs. Grey and Miss Shirreff have remained 
in London, as usual overdoing themselves to help 
others, and as usual suffering therefrom. 

Rome, April, 1884. 

The authoress. Miss Muloch, now Mrs. Craik, 
is here, and as I do not go out at present, has 
kindly come to see me, and charmed me almost 
as much as her lovely books. Mrs. B. also came 
one evening, bringing three friends of hers to be 
introduced to me. I suppose, coming to this city 
of antiquities, they think it their duty to visit all 
the ruins ! Dear Mrs. Marsh writes describing her 
home and life in Scarsdale in words worthy her 
perfect self, adding in compendious simplicity, 
' ' and am as happy as I could be anywhere in this 
world." * How pathetically true ! I consider it 
one of the highest privileges of my life to have 
known such a creature, virtue so attractive. 
American women appear to me to have two 
special virtues, which might be boasted of almost 
as national : self-control and cheerfulness under 

* She had lost her husband in 18S2. 

192 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

trials, " brightness," as they truly denominate it, 
and what delightful practical helps are both these 
in life's inevitable trials ! I agree with some 
bishop's opinion that temper is nine-tenths of 
Christianity ! I have always thought that after 
good principles ranks good temper — in a husband, 
for instance. 

Fermo, September, 1884. 

. . . We still talk of going to the Turin Exhibi- 
tion, but hesitate to encounter, not cholera but the 
in-sane, so-called sanitary precautions which harass 
one on all sides ; the follies executed by these 
panic-struck small " Comuni," where idleness causes 
any sensation to be welcome, even of agonies of 
fright, pass all belief ! The present state of 
idiotic panic reminds me of the sailor's reply to 
the inquiry, " Is there any fear ? " " Plenty of fear, 
but no danger ! ' ' Should any single even suspicious 
case arise in Turin during our stay, these jack-in- 
ofhce tom-fools here might prevent our returning 
home. It would be laughable were it not irritating 
to see the arbitrary follies committed ; thus 
certain fruits and vegetables are permitted to 
enter the town, others not; now they'll shut the 
town gates, next leave them open, or open the 
small postern only, as if cholera were some large 
animal unable to force entrance through such ! 
I do deepl}' pity the beloved S.'s who suffer such 
terrible fright ; yet surely we are now, as always, 
in God's hands ! we must die once ! and it becomes 

A Love-Match 193 

almost suicide thus uselessly to afflict oneself 
beforehand, and which moreover induces the first 
symptoms of the very evil so dreaded. Nothing 
in the world is so certain as death, yet nothing in 
the world so uncertain ! 


February, 1885. 

Of course you have heard about N. M.'s engage- 
ment to marry *' the richest man in Denmark." 
I consider him to have become such since securing 
such a sweet piece of perfection for a wife, and 
have taken a high estimate of the man since hearing 
that, by the laws of his country he forfeits a portion 
of his property by marrying a foreigner. Surely 
what remains will suffice them for happiness, nor 
could he have purchased with what he renounces 
more lasting happiness. To me it is sad to 
witness the surprise caused among the young 7ne)i 
by this proof of love, so natural to my mind, 
whereas few are surprised or shocked at the daily 
ruin of men, married or single, through vices or 
vicious companionship. Dear, lovely N. seems 
sweetly satisfied as a girl ought to be, and says 
but little, as is right and fitting on such an occasion. 
The G. marriage is quite another affair, one 
instance more of what I maintain, that married 
men are divided into two categories, those who 
marry, and those who are married — this last by 


194 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

far the most numerous ! I've lately been invited 
to inspect trousseau and gifts for a bridal, but 
cannot admire such exhibitions. I should not 
care to wear dresses seen, examined, and criticised 
in every detail, and underclothes so exposed seem 
to me indecent as well as ludicrous, as if to prove 
one had such things, otherwise doubtful ! 

The monument to Victor Emanuel will be a 
so-to-say taking possession of Rome, and the 
young architect Sacconi * has revealed himself a 
genius with the Greek elegance of his designs ; he 
has the true artistic gift from heaven which may, 
nay must, be cultivated, but cannot be acquired 
if not bestowed by the Creator. The last work of 
Sacconi is the tomb of the Comtesse de Thomar, 
a marvel of simple beauty . . . and stands out 
among the neighbouring throng of vulgarities f 
which always impress me with the strong desire 
to have none raised over me ! 

May, 1885. 

Sgambati's Symphony is splendid, so much so 
that I have written to London, hoping to induce 
some one to produce it there, at once. After his 
concert the " divine creature " dedicated himself, 
time, soul, and health, to getting up Gounod's 
" Redemption." We attended the so-called re- 
hearsals, but to see his sweet gentle ways rubbed 

* Native of Fermo. 

t In the cemetery, Campo Verano. 

Gounod's "Redemption" 195 

against a herd of non-bred vulgarians, without 
discipHne as to punctuality in coming, or decent 
silence when in place, inattentive to his repeated 
orders and entreaties, was a real distress to me. 
P., who sang in the amateur chorus, was often on 
the point of leaving, so troubled was she to form 
part of such a set of wild buffaloes ! The per- 
formance was in the Sala Costanzi — on account 
of the new organ erected there — but it was a mis- 
take, I think, the " sala " being much too small 
for the effects of the music, which I can only 
describe as a life-size portrait placed within half 
a yard of one's eyes. The King and Queen attended 
and the room was crowded, but the natural 
consequence of too few and ill-attended rehearsals 
was painfully evident. The real reason, however, 
why the " Redemption " was found wearying and 
endless is its want of solo pieces, songs, duetts, 
and trios. The one song sung by Donadio is 
the reverse of sacred, and instead of relieving the 
awe and severity of the whole subject, seems to 
clash against it. The King sat it out with the 
heroism to duty which is his own ! The intense 
heat made it difficult for many to follow his example 
though loving music as much as he dislikes it — 
true son of Casa Savoja. The fiasco was so 
absolute that no effort to repeat it was successful, 
and I fear this hurt much the dear " D. C." after 
his endless Quixotic sacrifices of lessons, parties, 
and other lucrative professional engagements. 

196 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 


March, 1886. 

Lady Louisa L. has had the capital original 
notion of a reception-tea in the lovely, little-known, 
small Villa Chigi beyond Porta Salaria. A tire- 
some drizzle, now and then, spoilt an otherwise 
charming fete, though the exquisite view was 
perhaps enhanced in beauty by the ever-varying 
clouds and the storms of slanting rain on the 
distant snow-capped mountains. I declared some 
British climate had been imported for the fete 
by that sweet-tempered most amiable Lady Louisa, 
our kind hostess, who bore it all with her usual 
laughing good humour. The present state of the 
roads there made the journey, however short, 
not imperilous, to the carriage if not to those 
inside it ; Villa Albani still remains as a landmark, 
otherwise distracting sets of buildings, irregular 
in size and in every other way, huddle all around 
as if rushing off from somewhere, half-finished, to 
somewhere — anywhere — else ! Years may settle 
them into streets, if they don't tumble down 
previous to termination.* 

We have revelled in three hearings of " Hugue- 
nots," Meyerbeer's finest opera. M., the tenor, 
merits in this opera the high favour he won from 
others, here, in " Puritani " and " Lucia " ; in these 
he never pleased or satisfied me ; one heard, saw, 

* Which was precisely the case with many of them. 

Sgambati 197 

and felt the late carpenter he had been and had 
not ceased to be, alas ! But " Raoul " abso- 
lutely transfigures him, he moves, acts the elegant 
man, sings with heart as well as art, without 
which all art is incomplete. Thus the . . . though 
I fully recognise her w^onderful art, never touched 
me ; elle chante mais elle n'enchante pas — not 
me, at least. . . . This week we pass most afternoons 
in the Lateran, to hear the fine Tenebrae service ; 
alas, Palestrina's unsurpassable music is too often 
substituted by present presumptuous moderns and 
their compositions, so utterly inadequate as to 
make it feel quite a sacrilege. Oh vanity and envy ! 
ye roots of all earth's sorrow and evil great and 
small ; these were the fatal apple Eve gave to 
Adam, and of which he partook the biggest share, 
turning the blame upon her ! — as ever since has 
been the case. 

Sgambati's last concert was crowded ; his 
rendering of Beethoven's Concerto, op. 73, was 
simply sublime, and once more confirms my feeling 
that no pianist can compare with him for a moment ; 
he is just perfect, no more and no less. Thank 
you warmly for the kind thought of posting me 
the paper about General G., although I care very 
little for that piece of pomposity ; as to his 
hideous wife she used to seem to me a specimen 
sent to prove that America can produce the 
extreme of ugliness in the same perfection as the 
extreme of beauty, of which latter she sends forth 

198 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

such profusion. Mrs. G. might counterbalance at 
least a thousand ! 

Fermo, May, 1886. 

Dear friends, here is the full, true and particular 
account of our journey home. We three women- 
folk left Rome on the loth for Perugia, next day 
we drove to Assisi, visited S. Maria, S. Francesco, 
and then the convent of Sta. Chiara, where the 
abbess is a connection of ours. She had her 
church treasures illuminated for us, offered us 
refreshments, medals, etc., and seemed as pleased 
to see us as we were charmed with her. She even 
lifted her thick black veil " because we are 
cousins," she explained,* but remained on the 
other side of the wall, more than a yard thick, 
speaking to us through the opening, a sort of 
tunnel. Fancy her telling us that her church of 
Sta. Chiara was once covered by frescoes and 
paintings of the great masters Giotto, Giottino, 
and others, but a bishop — Lord forgive his teme- 
rity of ignorance ! — had them hacked out, because 
they, and those who came to see them, were a 
distracting element to the nuns ! So much for his 
reverence of the Popes and Bishops who had had 
these exquisite works executed. Driving back to 
Perugia we inspected the Etruscan tombs of the 
Volumni and reached Perugia at seven, after a 
most enchanting drive, ever to me the one perfect 

* The Clares are strictly cloistered nuns. 

Perugia 199 

way of travelling. In my time — as all old people 
say — travelling was transport, now it has become 
transportation ! shot through from one place to 
another like a parcel, underground in beautiful 
mountain scenery, above where it is flat and un- 
interesting. Rossini, also of my way of thinking, 
used to say, " Ah, Clara mia, what a fortune that 
man will make, who, fifty years hence will invent 
' diligences ' ! " To return to Perugia, the Grand 
Hotel Brufani there is perfect in situation, views 
and all else. We worked hard sight-seeing on foot 
and driving, and managed to see an enormous 
quantity in our two days, but to see everything 
at all well would require months ; the multitude 
alone is bewildering. — We reached Porto S. Giorgio 
Thursday morning, where my gallant husband was 
waiting at the station to receive and drive us 
home. These first days are very busy, besides the 
coming elections which bring us both our sons as 
well as lots of cousins ; so we gain, whoever be 
elected. The very last days in Rome I went to 
inquire after dear Mrs. H. — still slight fever ; I 
always tremble when the good are ill, the bad are 
sure to recover — the Old Gentleman being in no 
hurry to add to his number, I fancy ! — I hear that 
friars have purchased Palazzo Altemps as well as 
Hotel Costanzi, besides erecting magnificent new 
convents all over the new quarters of Rome. 
Their poverty, so loudly deplored, seems singularly 
different to usual poverty ! We keep well although 

200 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

the constant inconstancy of the weather is trying. 
I keep adding shawl upon shawl and as quickly 
shedding them, one after the other — peeling like 
an onion. . . . 

Fermo, August, 1886. 

My sisters, Mrs. Cowden Clarke and Sabilla, 
left Genoa at the end of June for Switzerland, and 
later Bayreuth, to receive here a three days' dose 
of Wagner's "Parsifal," etc., as substitute for music. 
I don't envy them ; Louis of Bavaria's end shows 
what sort of madman it was who proclaimed 
Wagner a musician — also the effects of Wag- 
nerism ! ! . . . Our pretty little theatre here, with 
its lovely ceiling painted by Cochetti, opened last 
night with a small opera, " Le Villi," by a young 
beginner, Puccini, who has imitated Wagner ; a 
sequence of intricate harmonies without a trace 
of melody or inspiration, which might never end 
. . . and never begin ! This substitute for music 
is now the mode and consoles me for being old. 
When I was young, music was music indeed, and 
" oiled one's soul " ; now, what is imposed on one, 
instead, turns me into a Barbary hen, ruffling all 
my feathers up the wrong way ! After the " Villi " 
we had " Traviata," both sung by a Miss J. of Cin- 
cinnati ; lovely in face and person, but singing 
in the palsied fashion and from her tonsils, not 
from her chest. Palsy has invaded all the arts, 
not only in singing ; painting is all blotches and 
smears, orchestra pieces are written all tremolo . . . ! 

Liszt 201 

So that very clever old Liszt is dead ! You 
know what Rossini was found doing with his 
" Pater Noster," which was upside down on his 
pianoforte desk ? To inquiries, Why so ? he 
replied, " I've been trying till now to make 
something of it right side up — in vain, so I'm now 
going to try this way." 

I wish I had known the S.'s were going to 
America and would see you ; I should have begged 
them to take kind charge of a little parcel. I know 
not of any mode of conveyance like the " pacco 
postale," which nowadays renders sending trifles 
so temptingly easy ; if you could indicate me such 
I should be so glad. America seems to me 
terribly hke having friends in the moon, though 
you dear Americans run over and back as if next 

October, iS86. 

A book has lately appeared, in English, pur- 
porting to depict the manners and customs of this 
part of the Marche, and the Times, during an off 
season, honours it by a two-column article with 
quotations ; but honours are often onerous, and 
the article has caused many protests, and its 
quotations, translated, have produced here much 
natural indignation. I call the book " sour fibs " ! 
such a sequence of false statements is its only 
originality, and the author contradicts each in 
turn after a few lines. Had she wished to vent 

202 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

her discontent she might have written truths, for 
this, hke all other parts of the earth, does not lack 
what might be mended, but abuse of all and every- 
thing gives offence, and shows a sad incapacity of 
perception of all and any beauty in things 
surrounding, while sharp as vinegar to faults 
imaginary or real. It requires so little talent 
to see these, whereas for some eyes there is 
" good in everything," as Shakespeare says, 
reflecting his own mind on all he beheld ; like 
the moon, that beautifier of all she touches, 
veiling, hiding, almost beautifying what is ugly 
and prosaic. Fancy the authoress disliking our 
peasant songs ! " the long-held-out note in dis- 
cordant voices sounds more like the howl of wild 
beasts than human \ " of dancing, she wonders 
why they do it, or sing the while as it adds to 
their fatigue ; *' the eternal saltarello, the man 
seems to fall backward, the woman forwards." . . . 
Tosti was so inspired b}^ these same songs, that 
his " Pensa " was the result, and I, when a belated 
ox-cart driver keeps himself awake singing them, 
listen entranced, feeling he has completed the 
harmony of the star-lit summer night — its hum 
of silence, if I may so call it. As for the " saltarello " 
it resembles a ball of gnats in a sunbeam — I had 
to learn it when I was a bride ! Its origin must 
be as old as anything known ; its tee-to-tum-like 
whirl symbolises that oldest yet freshest of all 
things ; love's pursuit and retreat. 

Germany 203 

In 1888 Clara Novello, together with her husband and 
daughters, went to Germany, and whilst the former made 
the cure in Ems, she, quite alone, visited in turn Niiremberg, 
Regensburg, Frankfurt, etc. It was in Augsburg that 
she received, from the hotel chambermaid, a droll com- 
pliment which proves how unusually young-looking she was 
for her years — turned seventy. Entering into conversa- 
tion with the woman, to exercise her German according 
to her practical habit, some remark caused her to ask, 
" How old do you think I am ? " The woman delibe- 
rately took stock of her, and inquired, " Are your teeth 
your own ? " " Yes," said Clara. " Do you dye your 
hair ? " " No," was the answer. " Na . . . gute 
fiinfzig ! " concluded the woman (fifty, well turned). 
Which, though ever after a standing joke in the family, 
represented precisely Clara Novello's real age at that 

In 1889 my husband was created Senator, his 
hand being forced in the matter, for, apprised of 
his nomination when the decree bore already the 
Royal signature, he could no longer decline this 
long-due honour. What most intrigue to obtain 
he had several times evaded through over-modesty 
and strained feelings of delicacy, his only faults 
through a long and nobly pure life. . When he 
began telling me with a *' You will be more pleased 
than I am "... I guessed at once, and replied, 
" Better late than never ! " Curiously enough 
these were the very words which greeted him at 
the Senate from a large number of colleagues and 

204 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

old friends ; all those who knew him loved and 
esteemed him highly. . . . 

Never did he look or seem better than in 
January, 1893. Alas, the facts did not corre- 
spond. . . . 

Count Gigliucci died on the 29th of March, " the 
Senate abstaining, by his express desire, from its due 
attendance and honours." 

At the end of May I returned to Fermo, by 
way of Florence, to visit my sons and their families. 
On the 24th of June, S. Giovanni, my husband's 
fete-day, his only sister, Superior of the Convit- 
trici convent, had a fainting-fit, we were told, but 
in a few hours she passed away peacefully. How 
I envied, and do envy her ! God's will be done ! 

Here Clara Novello's reminiscences abruptly cease — 
a break typical of her life, which in one sense may be said 
to have come to a close at the same time. Serene and 
bright she remained to the end, active and fairly energetic, 
but it was only through those she loved that from that 
time forward she continued to take any particular 
interest in events, great or small ; for herself she ceased 
to care much for anything. Her strong will, unimpaired by 
age, she deliberately abdicated into the hands of the 
younger generation. " I prefer to do as the others wish," 
she would say, and it was plain that beyond the exceeding 
unselfishness natural in her, a sort of moral heart failure 
set in when bereaved of the companion of a nearly fifty 
years' ideally happy union. 

An insatiable and most eclectic reader, she dearly 

Deafness 205 

liked to be read to when her sight began to grow dim, and 
she was an admirable listener, never for an instant letting 
her mind wander ; but her consideration for others was 
such that she never asked to be read to, always waiting 
till it should be proposed. 

In Rome she received every evening friends who 
dropped in to see her, Italian-fashion, on a general invita- 
tion only, and her alert walk and carriage, the ring and 
steadiness of her voice, and the vigour and clearness of 
her mind were a constant marvel to them all. Good, 
general conversation she considered one of the highest 
intellectual enjoyments, and it was therefore a keen loss 
and sorrow to her when her hearing grew a little hard 
and debarred her from it. Unlike most people troubled 
with that infirmity, she was never known to ask for a 
repetition of what caused merriment around her. " It is 
a great bore to have to repeat to a deaf person," she 
would say. " I see you are enjoying yourselves, which 
makes me very happy, and I dare say you will tell me 
about it later." A most rare forbearance. 

All her life she was the recipient of confidences which, 
far from being sought, caused her often some impatience. 
" Why should people expect me to keep their secrets 
better than they can for themselves ? " Perhaps people 
felt instinctively that she was one of the desirable few 
who have no connection whatever with King Midas' wife 
— a " non-conductor of the heats and animosities of 
society," and with the necessity inherent in some to 
disburden themselves of what they know, they chose her as 
their safety-valve who carried out in herself her own oft- 
repeated injunction : " Remember, you have two ears and 
only one tongue." 

2o6 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

She says of herself (p. 171), " I, never ambitious for 
myself . . . "; but this simple statement is wholly inade- 
quate to depict her as she really was ; the negation of 
vanity or ambition of any kind whatsoever, personal, 
social or professional. When preparing to appear in 
public, she dressed with elegance and even splendour — 
" out of respect to the public," but in private it was only 
her love of neatness, her " talent pour I'ordre," as Mme. 
Tardieu expressed it, which prevented her indifference to 
dress degenerating into neglect ; "I cover myself, I don't 
dress," she would say. This carelessness to personal 
appearance was due to her Italian blood — as her French 
dressmaker once declared, with professional disgust : 
" les Italiennes ne savent ni cacher un defaut ni faire 
valoir une beaute." Passionately fond of the country, 
she had lived many months off and on, during the first 
years of her marriage, in IMartin Sicuro — a small country 
place she took delight in, unfinished and primitive though 
it was — when a friend came to stay with them, and on 
his requesting a looking-glass to shave by, it was only then 
discovered that such a thing did not exist in the house, 
even in the mistress's own room. 

During life she made many precious friendships in 
high places, but they were almost forced upon her. " Ursa 
Major," as she styled herself, she avoided rather than 
sought new acquaintances, intentionally disregarding the 
facilities which her husband's political position afforded — 
besides those derived from her own station — for mixing in 
brilliant circles. She carried these stay-at-home tendencies 
at times almost beyond the limits of social etiquette. 

In her profession she dedicated herself scrupulously 
to its duties, often to the detriment of health and comfort, 

Unworldliness 207 

" not to disappoint the public " ; but the duties once ful- 
filled, she never gave a thought to the effect she created, 
never read a paper on account of its mention of her, far 
less subscribed to such papers. In early youth, in Italy, 
Micheroux advised her to subscribe to certain papers, 
" for things go thus," he told her : " if you pay the papers, 
they will praise you in proportion to the amount you pay ; 
if you only subscribe they will not mention you, one way 
or the other ; if you do not subscribe, they will tear you 
to pieces and perhaps cause you some annoyance." Ever 
open to reason, she consented to subscribe, on condition 
she should not be expected to read the papers ! and when 
these accumulated, " to put them to some use," she amused 
herself cutting out the charades, which were then expedited 
by a friend to the officers garrisoned in the forts around 
Genoa, who received them as a boon which enlivened 
their exile. 

Visiting a prison one day, in Italy, she was painfully 
impressed by the wild expression " as of a chained eagle " 
of a young man confined there, and learnt he was an 
officer imprisoned for a debt of few hundreds of francs. 
Impelled by deep pity she discharged the debt, through 
a friend, first putting him on his oath never to reveal to 
any one, least of all to the prisoner, the name of his 
liberator ; she was well aware that such an act, from a 
young girl towards a young man, would most probably 
have been attributed to sentimental causes, wholly foreign 
to it in reality. She was much tickled, and her friend 
highly incensed, when the officer, recovering his liberty 
and attending the theatre, not only did not join in the 
general enthusiasm over her but spoke slightingly of her 
singing, her looks and everything about her ! 

2o8 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

She was all her life very skilful with her fingers, under- 
taking colossal pieces of work, dresses, shawls, bedcovers, 
beautifully embroidered, macrame lace with which she 
trimmed dozens of towels, brackets, and the like, and 
pillow lace, learnt during her- short visits to the Valle 
d'Aosta, of which it is one of the industries. When her 
sight was still excellent, she decided to prepare for the 
time when it should be no longer so. "I must invent 
some sort of old woman's work, in case I should live to 
be old. I should go wild if I had to sit with my hands in 
my lap ! " So she elaborated a crocheted vest for the 
babies of the poor, of which she made many thousands, 
working indefatigably at them even when receiving friends. 
She distributed them impartially in Fermo, where she 
spent the summers, and in Rome where she wintered, 
bestowing always two vests on each baby to encourage 
frequent washing of the little garment ! It was with heavy 
hearts and forebodings that those around her noticed one 
day that the crochet and unfinished " maglietta " were 
lying in the basket beside her, while her hands were lying 
idly in her lap — just one month before the end. 

Of death she had no fear, but a great dread of dying ; 
the possible gasping for breath, to her who lived to the 
last in a very whirlwind of fresh outer air, was an uneasy 
preoccupation. She was spared what she had feared ; 
at the end of February she took influenza, and on the 12th 
of March, 1908, she passed away so peacefully that it was 
truly falling asleep. 

She had often expressed her desire to be laid by the 
side of her " better half," " but only in case I die in Rome," 
she would add. " I do not approve carrying about dead 
bodies ; where the fruit falls, there let it lie." As she 

Death 209 

desired so it was done ; the first four words inscribed on 
the marble being dictated by herself, more than once, 
after 1893. The last line was added to commemorate 
her connection with music, her love of Handel and pre- 
ference for that song above all his other compositions, 
and for its fitness in reference to her perfect married life. 



Nata a Londra, 10 Giugno, 1818. 

Morta a Roma, 12 Marzo, 1908. 

" In sweetest harmony they lived." 

"Saul" (Handel). 



London, January', 1857. 

My dear Madam Clara, 

Accept my warm thanks for the very delightful 
manner in which you have responded to my wish. Should 
you now write to Madame Viardot to try the Durante 
duetts with you, you must tell her that I am the friend of 
Berlioz and introduced him into England, which is true. 
She will probably remember me ; I was in the box at the 
Opera with her, M. Viardot and M. Schoelcher on the 
night of the first performance of " Benvenuto Cellini," 
which you know is Berlioz's opera. She said to me, 
" Don't you think, sir, it is very wTong to hiss an opera 
like this ? " I could hardly reply to her from vexation ; 
to see the generous work of Berlioz so crushed, the labour 
of months and years destroyed, in a few hours, quite over- 
powered me. 

At first it may be best for us to be alone, but that is 
as you like. I know such a number of great people that 
I am afraid of no one, and if I have the honour to accom- 
pany you I don't see why not Madame Viardot, My love 
of music would render it very delightful and indeed a 
perfect romance, to hear these sublime compositions 
performed in private and for the first time by two such 
great artists. The Duos for soprano and contralto are 
composed on themes from the works of the great Alessandro 

214 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

Scarlatti, and are a tribute of love to him by Durante, 
his pupil. They exhaust all the dramatic accents of 
tenderness, affection, despair in their recitative, of which 
the modulation has never been equalled, and the song 
parts, with which they end, are always fugued in the 
most expressive manner. Oh, glorious Italy ! the great 
country of music, and the first in inextinguishable love 
for it. On Tuesday, at seven, I shall come to you with 
the book, trusting that in introducing it to you I may 
perform a service to you. . . . 

Yours truly, 

Edward Holmes. 

Translated from the Italian. 

Florence, 17th January, 1869. 

Dear Contessa, 

Please read the accompanying letter and kindly 
tell me, in two words, if I am right in my opinion that 
this debut for Anna * is advantageous, and if, in accepting 
this proposal, it is necessary to state what songs she intends 
singing, and if you think it advisable to choose one of 
Handel. ... Is not Lotti's air too trifling for such a 
concert ? What terms should I use, to accept a I'Anglaise ? 
You see how ignorant I am ! In speaking to you I feel 
like praying. Madonna, help me ! Kindly do so, for it 
is your doing if my heart has been drawn by your rare 

Yours ever, 

Carolina Sabatier Unger. 

* Her niece, Mile. Regan, later Mme. Schimon. 

Letters 215 

Rome (?), 24th April, 1S74. 

My dear Madame, 

Permit me to thank you for the information 
you send me respecting the poem of Emanuel di Salomone, 
of the family of the Sifronitides, It may be inferred 
from the price that my Hebrew friend has treated heaven 
and hell in a more summary manner than the great 
Italian poet. . . . 

Yours very sincerely, 

T, A. Trollope. 

London, 17th January, 1843. 

Dear Gibson, 

You are always so much gratified at the extension 
of British fame in Italy, that I am sure you will be well 
pleased at the introduction of Miss Clara Novello, who 
has earned great fame in the very land of song. Pray 
show her your beautiful works — which have also estab- 
lished English fame in the sister art of sculpture, and any 
other attentions as regards the fine things in Rome you 
may be able to favour her with, I shall be very glad of. 
I imagine she inherits a love of the fine arts from her 
accomplished father, who is one of my oldest and dearest 
friends. I cannot say I have not the honour of knowing 
personally this distinguished young lady, but it was only 
in her infancy, before I went to Italy, and I now envy you 
the pleasure of hearing her sing, but I trust it may not 
be long before I hear her in her native land, to be able to 
tell her how I rejoice at the power and success of her gains 
in bearing away a musical palm from Italy. 

You will be glad to hear a favourable report of the 

2i6 Clara Novello's Reminiscences 

historical fresco-painting, that is, the public has taken 
it up warmly, though the artists are still lukewarm. I 
hear of a fine thought you are realising for an Aurora. . . . 
Your much obliged friend, 

Jos. Severn. 

P.S. — I hear to-day that the Greek marbles from 
Asia Minor are partly to be seen in the British Museum, 
and will, in my next, write you about them. 



Telegrams: ^ ^, ^.^.j ^^ Maddox Street, 

' Scholarly, London. •> > c r j ^X7 

r>ond Street, London, vV. 
Telephone : ., , 

No. 1883 Mayfair. November, 1910. 

Mr. Edward Arnold's 




1853— 1902. 

By the Hon. Sir LEWIS MICHELL, 

Member of the Executive Council, Gate Colony. 

Two Volumes. With Illustrations. Demy Svo., 30s. net. 

This important work will take rank as the standard biography 
of one of the greatest of modern Englishmen. Sir Lewis Michell, 
who has been engaged on the work for five years, is an executor of 
Mr. Rhodes's will and a Trustee of the Rhodes Estate. He was 
an intimate personal friend of Mr. Rhodes for many years, and has 
had access to all the papers at Groote Schuur. Hitherto, although 
many partial appreciations of the great man have been published in 
the Press or in small volumes, no complete and well-informed life of 
him has appeared. The gap has now been filled by Sir Lewis 
Michell so thoroughly that we have in these two volumes what will 
undoubtedly be the final estimate of Mr. Rhodes's career for many 
years to come. The author, although naturally in sympathy with 
his subject, writes with independence and discernment on the many 
critical questions of the time ; his narrative is very lucid and very 
interesting, and the reader is made to feel the dominating personality 
of Mr, Rhodes in every phase of South African history and develop- 
ment. It is no small tribute to the book to say that, after reading 
it, even those who never met Mr. Rhodes can well understand the 
magic influence he seemed to exert upon all who came in contact 
with him in his life-time. 


2 Mr. Edward Arnold'' s Autumn Announcements. 


With Illustrations. One Volume. Demy 8vo., cloth. 15s. net. 

The Author of this entertaining book, Admiral the Hon. Victor 
Montagu, has passed a long life divided between the amusements 
of aristocratic society in this country and the duties of naval 
service afloat in many parts of the world. His memory recalls 
many anecdotes of well-known men — among them the famous 
' Waterloo ' Marquis of Anglesey, who was his grandfather, Lord 
Sydney, Sir Harry Keppel, Sir Edmund Lyons, Hobart Pasha, 
and others. Admiral Montagu is a distinguished yachtsman, 
and a well-known figure at Cowes, which forms the scene of some 
extremely interesting episodes. He was honoured with the 
personal friendship of the late King Edward VH. and of the 
German Emperor, by whom his seamanship, as well as his social 
qualities, was highly esteemed. As a sportsman he has some- 
thing to say about shooting, fishing, hunting, and cricket, and his 
stories of life in the great country houses where he was a frequent 
guest have a flavour of their own. The Admiral had no love for 
'the City,' and his denunciation of the pitfalls that await amateur 
'children in finance' will have many sympathizers. He is a type 
of the real British sailor, and is at his best in recording naval 
exploits and adventures, of which a goodly number fell to his lot. 


With an Introductory Memoir by 

Illustrated. One Volume. Demy 8vo. los. 6d. net. 

The forthcoming Reminiscences of Clara Novello were compiled by 
her daughter, Contessa Valeria Gigliucci, from the great singer's manu- 
script notes. They give charmingly vivid pictures of her early life, when 
Charles Lamb and all manner of distinguished literary and musical 
people were frequent guests at her father's house. After her mar- 
riage with Count Gigliucci she lived in Italy, and there are various 
interesting side-lights on the stirring times of the Risorgimento and 
the unification of the kingdom of Italy. 

The reminiscences are written in a pleasant, talkative style, with- 
out any great literary pretensions, and are marked by singular 
modesty and refinement. As the writer takes it for granted that the 
surroundings of music in her day are familiar to all her readers, it 

Mr. Edward Arnold's Autumn Announcements. 3 

has been thought expedient to supplement her memories by an 
introductory memoir by Mr. Arthur Duke Coleridge, who, as a youn,"- 
amateur tenor, had the honour of singing with Clara Novello on 
several occasions. He tells us of what oratorios were like at 
Exeter Hall in the days of Lindley and Dragonetti ; and describes 
the singing of Clara Novello herself for those who never had the 
luck to hear her. A little-known poem of Lamb is included in 
the volume, which contains also several portraits of the singer and 
her relations. 


% /li^emoir. 

With Portraits and other Illustrations. Demy Svo., cloth. 15s. net. 

It happens but rarely that the wife of a public man is in a position 
to write a memoir of him, but if it be true that an autobiography is 
the most interesting of all records of a career, surely that which 
comes nearest to it is the memoir written by a wife in close sympathy 
with the aims and ideals, the difficulties and triumphs of her 
husband. Mr. Arnold-Forster's father, William Delafield Arnold 
(a son of Dr. Thomas Arnold, Headmaster of Rugby), having died 
while he was still a child, he was adopted by the Right Hon. W. E. 
Forster, his uncle by marriage. He was educated at Rugby and 
University College, Oxford, where he took a First-Class in Modern 
History. He was afterwards called to the Bar, but soon became 
immersed in political life. During the stormy years of 1880- 1882 
he was private secretary to Mr. W. E. Forster, then Chief Secretary 
for Ireland, and shared all the difficulties and dangers due to the 
disturbed state of the country. Mr. Arnold-Forster entered Parlia- 
ment as Member for West Belfast in 1892, and represented that con- 
stituency for thirteen years. In igo6 he was elected for Croydon, for 
which he continued to sit until his death in 1909. His first official 
appointment was as Chairman of the Land Settlement Commission 
sent to South Africa in igoo. While there he received the offer of 
the Secretaryship to the Admiralty, and held the post until 1903. 
He then became Secretary of State for War at a critical period in 
the history of Army reorganization, and went out of office on the fall 
of the Unionist Government in 1905. 

This memoir is extremely interesting throughout from a political 
standpoint. It will also enable the reader to appreciate the universal 
respect felt for Mr. Arnold-Forster's high motives and strong prin- 
ciples in Parliament, and the warm affection for him cherished bv 
all who had the privilege of knowing him in private life. 

4 Mr. Edward Arnold's Autumn Announcements. 



Author of ' Wild Nokway,' etc.. 


British Vice-Consul at Jerez. 

With 200 Illustrations by the AUTHOR, E. CALDWELL, and others, 
and Photographs. 

Super Royal Svo. 21s. net. 

In Europe Spain is certainly far and away the wildest of wild 
lands — due as much to her physical formation as to any historic or 
racial causes. Whatever the precise reason, the fact remains that 
wellnigh one-half of Spain to-day lies wholly waste and barren — 
abandoned to wild beasts and wild birds. Naturally the Spanish 
fauna remains one of the richest and most varied in Europe. 

It is of these wild regions and of their wild inhabitants that the 
authors write, backed by lifelong experience. Spain, in this sense, 
is virgin ground, unoccupied save by our authors themselves. Their 
'Wild Spain,' written in 1892, was widely appreciated, and for 
many years past has commanded a fancy price. 

The present work represents nearly forty years of constant study, of 
practical experience in field and forest, combined with systematic 
note-taking and analysis by men who are recognised as specialists in 
their selected pursuits. These comprise every branch of sport with 
rod, gun, and rifle ; and, beyond all that, the ability to elaborate the 
results in the light of modern zoological science. 

The illustrations have been prepared from life-sketches made upon 
the spot, and include many studies of the rarer or vanishing forms 
of animal life, as well as some photographs by H.R.H. Philippe, 
Duke of Orleans. 



Lately Inspector-General op Forests to the Indian Government ; Commissioner 
under the development and road improvement funds act. 

With Illustrations from Photographs by MABEL EARDLEY-WILMOT. 
Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net. 

The Author of this volume was appointed to the Indian Forest 
Service in days when the Indian Mutiny was fresh in the minds of 
his companions, and life in the department full of hardships, loneli- 
ness, and discomfort. These drawbacks, however, were largely 
compensated for by the splendid opportunities for sport of all kinds 
which almost every station in the Service offered, and it is in 
describing the pursuit of game that the most exciting episodes of the 
book are to be found. What Mr. Eardley-Wilmot does not know 
about tiger-shooting cannot be worth knowing, for in addition to 
having bagged several score, he has many a time watched them 

Mr. Edward Arnold's Autumn Announcements. 5 

without intention of firing at them. Spotted deer, wild buffaloes, 
mountain goats, sambhar, bears, and panthers, are the subject of 
endless yarns, in the relation of which innumerable useful hints, 
often the result of failure and even disasters, are given. The author, 
moreover, from the nature of his calling, is deeply impregnated with 
the natural history and love of the forests and their inhabitants — in 
fact, he possesses the power of holding up a mirror, as it were, in 
which his reader can observe the whole life of the forest reflected. 

Of his professional life the author gives some most interesting 
particulars, and reveals to the uninitiated what a many-sided career 
is that of a Conservator of Indian Forests, whose life is spent in 
assisting Nature to yield her harvest of woody growth. 


IRccoUectloi'.e of Seas©ttec ibunttng {\\ tbc 1Rur(ls. 
By H. J. SNOW, F.R.G.S., 

Author of ' Notes on the Kuril Islanos." 

Ilhistrated. Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net. 

The Author of this interesting book has had an experience probably 
unique in an almost unknown part of the world. The stormy wind- 
swept and fog-bound regions of the Kuril Islands, between Japan 
and Kamchatka, have rarely been visited save by the adventurous 
hunters of the sea-otter, and the animal is now becoming so scarce 
that the hazardous occupation of these bold voyagers is no longer 
profitable. For many years, from 1873 to 1888, Captain Snow 
persevered — years of varying success, sometimes fraught with an 
ample return, but more often ending in disaster and shipwreck. The 
list of vessels engaged in the business over a lengthy period, which 
Captain Snow has compiled, shows that scarcely a single one 
escaped a violent end, and the loss of life among their crews was 
enormous. Hunting the sea-otter was indeed just the sort of 
speculative venture in which bold and restless spirits are always 
tempted to engage. In a lucky season the prizes were very great, 
for the value of the furs was immense. The attendant dangers were 
also great — your vessel was always liable to shipwreck ; your boats, 
in which the actual hunting was done, might be swamped in an 
open sea at a moment's notice ; the natives were frequently hostile, 
and there was always a risk of your whole venture ending in the 
confiscation of ship and cargo by Russian or Japanese orders, and 
the incarceration of yourself and company as ' trespassers.' 

Captain Snow, who is a Back Prizeman of the Royal Geographical 
Society, made the charts of the Kuril Islands which are used by the 
British Admiralty, and before plunging into his own adventures he 
gives two excellent chapters on the islands and their inhabitants, 
the Ainu. 

A valuable description of the sea-otter, and its place in natural 
history and commerce, are found in Appendices. 

6 Mr. Edward Arnold's Auttcnm Announcements. 



Author of 'Ten Years' Gamekeeping, 

With Photogravure Ilhistvations. Large Crown 8fo., cloth. 7s. 6d. net. 

In this charming and romantic book we follow the gamekeeper in 
his secret paths, stand by him while with deft lingers he arranges 
his traps and snares, watch with what infinite care he tends his 
young game through all the long days of spring and summer — and 
in autumn and winter garners with equal eagerness the fruits of his 
labour. He takes us into the coverts at night, and with him we 
keep the long vigil — while poachers come, or come not. 

Not the least interesting studies in the book are those of all the 
creatures that come in for the keeper's special attention. Snapshot 
follows snapshot of pheasant and partridge, fox and badger, stoat 
and weasel, squirrel and dormouse, rook and crow, jackdaw and jay, 
hawk and owl, rabbit and hare, hedgehog and rat, cat and dog — and 
of all the little song-birds, the trees, herbs, and flowers that win the 
affection of the keeper, or his disapproval, in accordance with their 
helpfulness or hindrance in his work. 

The authors know their subject through and through. This is a 
real series of studies from life, and the notebook from which all the 
impressions are drawn and all the pictures painted is the real note- 
book of a real gamekeeper. Owen Jones has been a working game- 
keeper for many years, and is the leading authority and writer on 
gamekeeping subjects. In this new book he has had, in Marcus 
Woodward, the advantage of a collaborator who shares his deep love 
for all phases of woodcraft, and who has spent with him many long 
days and nights studying the life of the woods and fields. 



By Captain G. E. SHARP. 

With Photogravure Illustrations. Crown Svo. 5s. net. 

This is a very charming little book containing the reflections on 
things piscatorial of a ' dry-fly ' fisherman on a south country 
stream. Although the Author disclaims any right to pose as an 
expert, it is clear that he knows well his trout, and how to catch 
them. He is an enthusiast, who thinks nothing of cycling fifteen 
miles out for an evening's fishing, and home again when the ' rise ' 
is over. Indeed, he confesses that there is no sport he loves so 
passionately, and this love of his art — surely dry-fly fishing is an 

Mr. Edward ArnohVs Autumn Announcements. 7 

art ? — makes for writing that is pleasant to read, even as Isaac 
Walton's love thereof inspired the immortal pages of ' The Com- 
pleat Angler.' Salisbury is the centre of the district in which the 
author's scene is laid, and the lush herbage of the water-meadows, 
the true English landscape, the clear channels, the waving river- 
weeds, fill his heart with a joy and peace that he fmds nowhere else. 
Perhaps for his true happiness we must add a brace or two of fine 
trout, and of these there was no lack. Whether or not the reader 
has the luck to share Captain Sharp's acquaintance with the 
Wiltshire chalk-streams, he can hardly escape the fascination of 
this delicately written tribute to their beauty. 


By Major the Hon. C. G. BRUCE, M.V.O., 

Fifth Gurkha Rifles. 

Fully Ilhsirated. Demy Svo., cloth. i6s. net. 

The Himalaya is a world in itself, comprising many regions which 
differ widely from each other as regards their natural features, their 
fauna and flora, and the races and languages of their inhabitants. 
Major Bruce's relation to this world is absolutely unique — he has 
journeyed through it, now in one part, now in another, sometimes 
mountaineering, sometimes in pursuit of big game, sometimes in the 
performance of his professional duties, for more than twenty years ; 
and now his acquaintance with it under all its diverse aspects, 
though naturally far from complete, is more varied and extensive 
than has ever been possessed by anyone else. In this volume he 
has not confined himself to considering the Himalaya as a field for 
mountaineering, but has turned to account his remarkable stores of 
experience, and combined with his achievements as climber and 
explorer a picture such as no other hand could have drawn of the 
whole Himalayan range in successive sections from Bhutan and 
Sikkim to Chilas and the Karakoram; sketching the special feature? 
of each as regard scenery, people, sport, and so forth, and pointing 
out where necessary their bearing on facilities for transport and 
travel. We would make special mention in this connection of the 
account of a recent tour in Nepal ; here Major Bruce was much 
assisted by his unusual familiarity with the native dialects, and the 
vivid record of his impressions compensates to some extent for the 
regrettable refusal of the native government to permit a visit to that 
most tempting of all goals to a mountaineering expedition, Mount 

8 Mr. Edward Arnold's Autumn Announcements. 



With Photogravure Frontispiece and i6 Full-page Illustrations. 
Demy 8vo., cloth. 14s. net. 

There are a few men in every generation, such as A, F. Mummery 
and L. Norman Neruda, who possess a natural genius for mountain- 
eering. The ordinary lover of the mountains reads the story of their 
climbs with admiration and perhaps a tinge of envy, but with no 
thought of following in their footsteps ; such feats are not for him. 
The great and special interest of Mr. Larden's book lies in the fact 
that he does not belong to this small and distinguished class. He 
tells us, and convinces us, that he began his Alpine career with no 
exceptional endowment of nerve or activity, and describes, fully and 
with supreme candour, how he made himself into what he very 
modestly calls a second-class climber — not ' a Grepon-crack man,' but 
one capable of securely and successfully leading a party of amateurs 
over such peaks as Mont Collon or the Combin. This implies a 
very high degree of competence, which in the days when Mr. Larden 
first visited the Alps was possessed by an extremely small number 
of amateur climbers, and which the great majority not only did not 
possess, but never thought of aspiring to. Perhaps it is too much 
to say that Mr. Larden aimed at it from the outset ; probably his 
present powers far exceed the wildest of his early dreams ; but from 
the very first he set himself, methodically and perseveringly, to 
reach as high a standard as possible of mountaineering knowledge 
and skill. Mr. Larden's name will always be specially associated 
with AroUa, which has been his favourite climbing centre ; but his 
experience of all parts of the Alps is unusually wide. His climbing 
history is a brilliant illustration of the principle which Mr. Roosevelt 
has been recently expounding with so much eloquence and emphasis, 
that the road to success is by developing to the utmost our ordinary 
powers and faculties, and that that road is open to all. 


By A. C. FORBES, F.H.A.S., 

Chief Forestry Inspector to the Department of Agriculture for Ireland. 
Author of ' English Estate Forestry,' liTC. 

Illustrated. Demy Svo., cloih. los. 6d. net. 

The purpose of this volume is to survey the present position and 
future possibilities of British Forestry under existing physical and eco- 
nomic conditions. Modern labour problems and the growing scarcity 

Mr. Edward Arnold's Auttimn Announcements, 9 

of timber have brought out very clearly the importance of Afforesta- 
tion, but in a thickly populated country any proposed change from 
grazing or agriculture to Forestry on a large scale is a matter of 
extreme difficulty. The Author therefore adopts a cautious attitude 
in practice, although extremely enthusiastic in theory. He en- 
deavours to show the relative position of the British Isles among 
the countries of Northern and Central Europe in matters of Forestry 
and timber consumption, the extent to which a forward movement 
in the former respect is required, and the economic and sociological 
agencies by which it is limited. The climate and soil of the United 
Kingdom, and the manner in which Forestry practice is affected by 
them, are discussed. The species most likely to prove of economic 
value when grown on a large scale are dealt with, and the financial 
results likely to follow. Finally, suggestions are made for placing 
British Forestry on a national basis, with the co-operation of land- 
owners, local authorities, and the State. 



Author of 'The "Green Finch ' Cruise.' 

With 50 Illustrations from the Author's sketches. 
Medium Svo., cloth. 6s. net. 

Mr. Kempson's amusing account of ' The Green Finch Cruise, 
which was published last year, gave deep delight to the joyous 
fraternity of amateur sailor-men, and the success that book enjoyed 
has encouraged him to describe a rather more ambitious cruise he 
undertook subsequently. On this occasion the party, consisting of 
three persons, included the Author's daughter—' a large flapper ' he 
calls her— and they chartered a 7-toner, the Cock-a-Whoop, with 
the intention of cruising from Southampton to the West Country 
anchorages. The reasons of their failure and their misadventures, 
never too serious, are described by ISIr. Kempson with great origin- 
ality and raciness. He is not an expert, but he shows how anyone 
accustomed to a sportsman's life can, with a little instruction and 
common sense, have a thoroughly enjoyable time sailing a small 
boat. The book is full of ' tips and wrinkles ' of all kinds, inter- 
spersed with amusing anecdotes and reflections. The Author's 
sketches are exquisitely humorous, and never more so than when he 
is depicting his own substantial person. 

10 Mr, Edward Arnold's Autumn Announcements. 


In Two Volumes. Demy 8vo., cloth. 21s. net. 

The first volume, which is autobiographical, covers the period 
from George Tyrrell's birth in 1861 to the year 1885, including an 
account of his family, his childhood, schooldays, and youth in 
Dublin ; his conversion from Agnosticism, through a phase of High 
Church Protestantism to Catholicism ; his experiences in Cyprus 
and Malta, where he lived as a probationer before entering the 
Society of Jesus ; his early life as a Jesuit, with his novitiate and 
first studies in scholastic philosophy and Thomism. This autobiog- 
raphy, written in 1901, ends just before the death of his mother, 
and was not carried any farther. It is edited with notes and 
supplements to each chapter by M. D. Petre. 

The second volume, which takes up the story where the first ends, 
deals chiefly with the storm and stress period of his later years. 
Large use is made of his own notes, and of his letters, of which a 
great number have been lent by correspondents of all shades of 
thought. Various documents of importance figure in this later 
volume, in which the editor aims at making the history as complete 
and objective as possible. Incidentally some account is given of the 
general movement of thought, which has been loosely described as 
' modernism,' but the chief aim of the writer will be to describe the 
part which Father Tyrrell himself played in this movement, and the 
successive stages of his mental development as he brought his 
scholastic training to bear on the modern problems that confronted 
him. The work ends with his death on July 15, 1909, and the 
events immediately subsequent to his death. 



Author of ' An Agnostic's Progress,' etc. 

Crown Svo., cloth. 53. net. 

Mr. Scott Palmer's Diary is the attempt of a man of faith and 
intellect to bring modern thought to bear on the ancient doctrines of 
religion. His musings bear no resemblance to the essays at recon- 
ciliation with which the latter part of the last century was only too 

Mr. Edward Arnold's Autumn Announcements. n 

familiar. Mr. Bergson, in whose philosophy the Diarist is steeped, 
somewhere speaks of the disappearance of many problems, as 
thought penetrates beyond and behind their place of origin, into a 
region in which opposites are included and embraced. So Mr. Palmer, 
as he considers the rites and ceremonies, the theologies old and new, 
which the year brings before him, and sets them in relation with the 
latest or the oldest philosophical thinking or the most recent 
scientific generalization, shows that there is in man, if we do but 
take him as a whole and not in artificial sections, a power by which 
faith and knowledge come to be at one. 

The Diary covers nearly ten months — from July, 1909, to May, 
1910. It is full of variety, yet has the unity due to one purpose 
strongly held and clearly conceived. A rare sincerity and a fine 
power of expression characterize this striking book. 

The title shows that religion is interpreted in the ' modernist ' 
fashion ; but modernism is a method, not a system, and the writer 
is more than an exponent of other men's thoughts. If there are any 
leaders in the great movement to which he is more indebted than he 
is to the movement itself, they are the late Father George Tyrrell (to 
whom the book is dedicated), and Baron Friedrick von Hugel. 



Director of Research in the Glasgow CancerIHospital. 

One Volume. Demy ?)Vo. 8s. 6d. net. 

There is probably no scientific subject which excites so deep an 
interest at the present moment as that which is dealt with in Dr. 
Charles Walker's book. Mankind has always vaguely recognized 
the fact of heredity ; fortes crsantur foriibns et bonis somehow or other, 
but it is only recently that more precise information has been sought 
and achieved as to how and to what extent mental and bodily 
characteristics are transmitted from parents to their offspring. 
With this increase of information has come also a realization of the 
immense practical importance of obtaining correct conclusions on 
the subject for persons concerned with almost every department of 
social progress. Such persons will find in Dr. Walker's book a 
lucid and concise statement of the nature of the problems to be 
solved, the present state of scientific knowledge on the subject, and 
the steps by which that knowledge has been arrived at. Dr. Walker 
makes it clear that he is very much alive to those more remote 
bearings of the inquiry to which we have referred above, but he 
does not himself pursue them. His object has been to enable those 
who are interested in the main question, without being biological 
experts, to form a judgment on it for themselves. 

12 Mr. Edward Arnold's Autumn Announcements. 



Canon of Manchester; Recently Principal of the Leeds Clergy School. 
Author of 'Christian Ideals,' 'Christus Crucifixus,' etc 

One Volume. Crown 8vo. 5s. net. 

' Preachers and Teachers ' opens with a study of famous and 
characteristic EngHsh, or more accurately British, preachers. 
These are Hugh Latimer, Robert Hall, Edward Irving, Robertson 
of Brighton, H. P. Liddon, C. H. Spurgeon, and John Caird, 
representing very different types of pulpit eloquence. This is 
followed by chapters descriptive of the personality, teaching, or 
method of certain Christian doctors, ancient and modern : St. 
Augustine, St. Martin of Tours, Bishop Butler, and Edward Irving. 
The last of these, having been dealt with briefly as an orator in 
Chapter I., is here described more fully as a leader of religious 
thought, with the help of private documents in the possession of the 
writer, which present, as he believes, a more accurate picture of the 
man and his true place in the history of religion than the somewhat 
distorted portrait of popular imagination. The volume contains 
also a survey of preaching in the Church of England during the 
seventeenth century, beginning with Lancelot Andrewes in the age 
immediately succeeding the Reformation, and passing on through 
Laud and Jeremy Taylor to Tillotson, who verges on the Georgian 
age. The whole book is designed to lead up to the final chapter on 
the Modern Pulpit, in which the Author discusses the principles 
which ought to guide the preacher in his presentation of the Christian 
message to the men and women of to-day. This chapter frankly 
accepts the ideal of the Christian preacher as the prophet who is 
bound to deliver the one Truth, as he is able to see it, to the critical 
conscience of his hearers. This involves, among other matters, a 
discussion of the pulpit and politics, which is not likely to pass 

A CENTURY OF EMPIRE, 1800-1900. 

VOLUME III., FROM 1867-1900. 
By the Right Hon. Sir HERBERT MAXWELL, Bart., M.P., 

Author of 'The Life of Wellington," etc. 

With Photogravure Portraits. Demy 8w. 14s. net. 

Little need be said with regard to the concluding volume of Sir 
Herbert Maxwell's great history, which covers the period from 1867 
to 1900. In one important respect it differs from its predecessors. 
Only a small minority of readers can have a personal recollection of 
the events dealt with in even the latter part of the second volume, 
but the third treats of matters within the memory of most of us, and 

Mr. Edward Arnold's AtUiniui Announcements. 13 

might well be called ' A History of Our Own Times.' This fact 
alone would be enough to give the third volume an enhanced 
interest, but there can be no doubt that the subject-matter is also 
more picturesque and arresting than the somewhat humdrum story 
of political and national life during the middle period of the century. 
The year 1867 marks a merely arithmetical division, and has nothing 
epoch-making about it, but 1870 saw the opening of a new and 
momentous chapter in the history of Europe and the world, which 
is very far from being closed yet. Sir Herbert Maxwell's clear and 
compact narrative cannot fail to help us to realize its earlier 
development in their true perspective. 


Z\)C Cburcb in tbe Barl^ SecoiiD Century. 
By the Rev. ERNEST A. EDGHILL, M.A., B.D., 

Sub-Warden of the College of St. Saviouk in Southwakk ; 

HuLSEAN Lecturer in the Univekshy of Cambridge; Lecturer in Ec^lesia tical 

History in King's College, London, etc. 

Crown 8vo., cloth. 5s. net. 

These studies are preliminary to a larger work on Early Church 
History which the Author has in hand. The method adopted in the 
present volume will be seen from the following summary of its 
contents : 

Chapter I. Power and Weakness. The Religions of the Early 
Roman Empire. — H. The Power of Attraction. — HI. The 
Power of Purity: The Church's Moral Message. — IV. The 
Power of Suffering : the Origins of Persecutions in the First 
Century. — V. The Causes of Persecution. — VI. The Results 
of Persecution. — VII. The Spirit of Love. — VHI. The Spirit 
of Discipline. 


B GiuDB Of tbc MMe. 

Rector of Ticke.vcote and Prebendary of Euckden in Lincoln Cathedral. 

Croivn 'Svo., cloth. Probable price, 5s. net. 

An attempt to represent from the point of view of the ' New 
Learning ' the various aspects of the Bible. Its themes are the 
diversity in unity embodied in the canon of Holy Scripture ; the 
problems raised by present-day criticism and archaeology ; the 

14 Mr. Edward Arnold's Autumn Announcements. 

nature and scope of inspiration ; the influence of the Bible (past, 
present, and future) in the education of mankind ; the romance of 
the English Bible ; the debt which the Bible owes to the land of its 
birth ; the new aspect assumed by the old controversy with Physical 
Scientists ; the principles on which the Bible may be compared with 
other 'Sacred Books'; the permanent value of the Bible — its 
meaning and its message. But many other questions are raised on 
the way, which cannot, in every case, be answered at present. The 
Author is one of those who are convinced that the Bible has a great 
future before it, a future which is all the brighter and not the 
gloomier as a result of modern criticism ; and he endeavours to 
exhibit to the thoughtful reader, in language as little technical as 
possible, some of the grounds of his conviction. 

In the present volume the Bible is treated in a more general way, 
though concrete illustrations are given to make clear the principles 
enunciated. There are two other volumes in contemplation in 
which the Author proposes to deal with the Old Testament and the 
New Testament separately, and to describe (still as far as possible 
in untechnical language) what may be known of the origin and 
growth, on the human side, of the various elements of those two 
sacred literatures. 


B 1bau£)booK of Cburcb Work. 
By the Rev. PETER GREEN, M.A., 

Rector of Sacred Trinity, Salford. 

With a Preface by the Right Rev. LORD BISHOP OF 

Crown Svo., cloth. 2S. 6d. net. 

This book, which should be of real interest and value to all who 
are engaged in work among lads, attempts to describe in detail how 
to deal with a working boy from the time when he leaves day- 
school and goes to work till he settles down as a married man, the 
object throughout being to make him a useful, intelligent, and 
attached member of his Church. 

The worker, and the qualifications necessary for the work, are 
first discussed, and the popular view of the importance of athletic 
ability for success with lads is controverted. The Lads' Club and 
its organization is then treated, with special reference to its con- 
nection with the Church, and to the question of religious tests. 
Social, athletic, and recreative agencies in connection with the 
club are considered, and the Bible-class, with the kindred subjects 
of Church attendance, private prayers, and visitation during sickness. 

Mr. Edward Arnold's AiUii}]in Announcements. 15 

is gone into very fully. This leads to a chapter on Confirmation 
and one on First Communion, with the preparation necessary for 
each. A special point is made of the need for keeping hold on the 
lad after his Contirmation, and means to this end are fully discussed. 
The last chapter deals with special cases, with soldiers and sailors, 
and with boys who have moved away to live elsewhere. The whole 
book claims to be a record of methods which have been put to the 
test of experience, and the Bishop of Gloucester, under whom the 
Author served at Leeds Parish Church, contributes a Preface. 


By Mrs. F. E. CRICHTON, 

Author of ' Peef-in-the- World.' 

With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. ^s. 6d. 

This story, chiefly intended for young people, centres round the 
attractive personality of a little boy called Basil, whose happy and 
adventurous doings can hardly fail to delight both children and 
' grown-ups.' 

White Cloud Hill is the entrance to the land of Far-away, a 
wonderful fairy region of Basil's imagination, which he loves to visit 
in his dreams. His adventures begin when he goes to stay with 
Cousin Marcella, a stern lady who has had an unfortunate quarrel 
with his father, and whom Basil has always thought of with 
alarm. The visit, however, has the best of results, for Basil, by his 
irresistible charm, effects such a happy reconciliation between his 
elders that he earns the very name which he would have most 
desired for himself—' The Little Wizard of White Cloud Hill.' 

The thread of seriousness woven into the story does not interfere 
with its charm of freshness. The Author's handling of all her 
characters is most sympathetic, and she shows a wide understanding 
of children and their ways. Her pages, moreover, are full of little 
things about children, such as children love. A capital book for 
reading aloud or reading to oneself. 

New Edition. 



Professor of Philosophy in the Unmversitv of Liveki'ool. 

A New and Cheaper Edition. Crown 8vo., cloth. 3s. 6d. net. 

' Professor MacCunn's studies of eminent Radicals deal with men of very 
diverse powers and attainments, yet with a critical detachment from all kinds 
of sectional politics that is indeed admirable.' — Wcstminstey Gazette. 

1 6 Mr. Edward Arnold's Aiitinnn Announcements. 




Author of 'A Room with a View,' ' The Longest Journey,' etc. 

Crozvn Svo., cloth. 6s. 

Readers of Mr. Forster's former books, of ' A Room with a View ' 
and ' The Longest Journey,' will heartily welcome this fresh work 
from so facile and felicitious a pen. In ' Howards End ' the author 
thoroughly fulfils the expectations raised by his earlier works, and 
adds still further to his reputation as a novelist. For the subject of 
his new story of English social life he has chosen an old Hertford- 
shire country-house, round which centre the fortunes of that interest- 
ing group of characters which he handles with that delicate and 
skilful touch with which his readers are already familiar. Here 
once again we find the same delightful humour, the same quiet but 
mordant satire, the flashes of brilliant dialogue to which this author 
has long accustomed us. A thread of romance runs through the 
story, from which depend like pearls those clever pen-pictures and 
exquisite character sketches, in the portrayal of which Mr. Forstcr 
has already shown himself so much of an adept. 



Croivn 8vo., cloth. 6s. 

' The Return ' is the story of a man suddenly confronted, as if by 
the caprice of chance, with an ordeal that cuts him adrift from every 
certain hold he has upon the world immediately around him. He 
becomes acutely conscious of those unseen powers which to many, 
whether in reality or in imagination, are at all times vaguely present, 
haunting life vv^ith their influences. In this solitude — a solitude of 
the mind which the business of everyday life confuses and drives 
back — he fares as best he can, and gropes his way through his 
difficulties, and wins his way at last, if not to peace, at least to a 
clearer and quieter knowledge of self. 

Mr. Edward Arnold's Aiifiuun Announcements. 17 



Author ok ' The Pas^ue P'lowkr,' 'Makgeky Pigeon,' etc. 

Crown 8vo., cloth. 6s. 

The writer is one of the very few present-day novelists who have 
consistently followed up the aim they originally set themselves — that 
of striking a mean between the Realist and tlie Romanticist. In her 
latest novel, 'The LittleGray Alan,' which Miss Wardle herself believes 
to contain the best work she has so far produced, it will be found 
that she has as successfully avoided the bald one-sidedness of mis- 
called ' Realism ' on the one hand, as the sloppy sentimentality of the 
ordinary 'Romance' on the other. At the same time, ' The Little 
Gray Man' contains both realism and romance in full measure, in the 
truer sense of both words. The scheme of the book is in itself novel, 
the intrigue being set out in the words of one of the characters — a 
supremely selfish, worthless young man — who is as little in sympathy 
Avith the nobler-minded Gentry, the unconventional ' hero,' as with 
the arch-villain Mandevil himself. The self-revealing touches by 
which Carfax is made to lay bare the worthlessness of his own aims 
make up an extraordinary vivid character, while at the same time 
acting as foil to the others with whom he is brought in contact. 
No less vivid are the studies of Gentry himself, of the two brothers, 
round whose life-long feud the plot centres, and of Joan, their 
daughter and niece. A pleasant love-interest runs through the 
story, in conjunction with an exciting ' plot.' 



Author of 'Seekers,' ' The Desert Venture,' etc. 

Croivn 8vo., cloth. 6s. 

That the risk of being kidnapped, to which their great riches 
exposes multi-millionaires, is a very real one, is constantly being 
reaffirmed in the reports that are published of the elaborate pre- 
cautions many of them take to preserve their personal liberty. In its 
present phase, where there is the great wealth on one side and a 
powerful gang — or rather syndicate — of clever rascals on the other, 
it possesses many characteristics appealing to those who enjoy a 
good thrilling romance. Mr. Savile has already won his spurs in 
this field, but his new tale should place him well in the front ranks 
of contemporary romancers. The protagonists of 'The Pursuit' 
are Anglo-American, with a background of Moors, and the action is 
laid round the person of the little grandson of ' the richest man in 
America.' It would not be fair to readers to adumbrate the plot 
further, but they may rest assured that they will find here a fine 
open-air tale of modern adventure, with interesting clean-cut 
characters, and some really full-blooded villainy. 

i8 Mr. Edward Arnold's Autumn Announcements. 



3t6 jeearing on SSiologs an& /llbeDicine. 
By JAMES C. PHILIP, M.A., Ph.D., D.Sc, 

Assistant Professor in thk Department of Chemistry, Imperial College of 
Science and Technology. 

2)12 pp. Crown 8vo., cloth. 7s. 6d. net. 

The advances of Physical Chemistry have an important bearing 
on the study of all living structures, whether included under Biology, 
Botany, or Physiology proper. The present book gives the results 
of the most modern researches in the application of physico-chemical 
laws to the processes which are characteristic of the living organism, 
and illustrative examples are specially chosen from the fields of 
biology, physiology and medicine. An elementary knowledge of 
physics, chemistry, and mathematics is alone assumed in the reader. 



Lecturer on Motor-Car Engineering at the Glasgow 
AND West of Scotland Technical College. 

Ftilly Illustrated. Demy 8vo. los. 6d. net. 
A book for all designers and draughtsmen engaged in the practical 
manufacture of petrol engines and chassis for motor-cars. Each 
part of the mechanism is taken in detail, and the leading types of the 
various parts are compared and discussed, often with criticism based 
on exceptional experience in practice, yet always without bias or 
prejudice. The simple descriptions and clear diagrams will also 
render the book of value to the non-technical man, who as owner or 
prospective buyer of a car is interested in its mechanism. 


By JOHN DON, A.M.I.Mech. Eng., 
Illustrated. Demy ^vo. 15s. net. 
Mr. Don, whose paper on ' The Filtration and Purification of 
Water for Public Supply ' was selected by the Council of the Insti- 
tution of Mechanical Engineers for the first award of the ' Water 
Arbitration Prize,' has here collaborated with Mr. Chisholm, the 
manager of the Airdrie, Coatbridge and District Water Works. 
The book will interest, not only the water engineer and Public 
Health Officer, but also all who recognize the paramount importance 
to modern towns of a water-supply above suspicion. A full 
description is given of modern methods of filtration. 

My. Edward Arnold's Autninn Announccuicnts. 19 


General Editor: DR. J. E. MARK, F.R.S. 


^20 pp. Crown Svo., cloth. 75. 6d. net. 

A full account of the geological water-bearing strata, especially 
in reference to Great Britain, and of all the various sources — wells, 
springs, streams, and rivers — from which water-supplies are drawn. 
The influence of the rainfall, percolation, evaporation from the soil 
and by vegetation, as well as other allied subjects, are discussed. 



Curator of the Museum of Practical Geology. 

CroK'n ^vo., cloth, -js. 6d. net. 

Since the appearance of Professor Hull's treatise in 1872, no 
single book has been brought out in this country dealing exclusively 
with the Geology of Building Stones. Many valuable papers have 
been written on special branches, and lists of building stones, etc., 
have been incorporated in the standard works upon building con- 
struction, but in few of these has the geological aspect been developed 
so as to link up the facts concerning the occurrence, physical 
properties, and resistance to wear of the natural materials as they 
exhibit themselves to a geologist. 

In the present volume the author has especially studied the 
requirements of architects in Great Britain, so that it should prove 
not only a useful guide for the student, but also a reliable and 
handy book of reference for the practising architect. Although 
building stones occupy the bulk of the space, most of the points 
where geology and architecture meet are shortly touched upon. 



Royal Geographical Society Lecturer in Regional and Physical Geogr.\phy 
IN THE University of Cambridge; 

And R. H. RASTALL, M.A., F.G.S., 

Fellow of Christ's College, Camurioge; Demonstrator in Geology in the 
University of Cambridge. 

Illustrated. Demy Svo. i6s. net. 

The authors here give within moderate compass a complete 
treatise suitable alike for the student and for all who desire to 
become acquainted with Geology on modern lines. The first part 
of the book deals more particularly with Physical Geology — that is, 
the study of the earth as it exists to-day, the moulding processes 
which we can now see at work, and the land and water formations 
which thence result. The second part deals with Stratigraphical 
Geology, or the unravelling of the earth's previous history, the 
stratigraphy of the British Isles being considered in detail. 

20 Mr. Edward Arnold's New Books. 



By Erskine Childers, Editor of Vol. V. of '"The Times" 

History of the War in South Africa.' 
With Introduction by Lord Roberts. 7s. 6d. net, 

' Whether he be right or wrong, Mr. Childers's subject is sufficiently serious, 
and his indictment of present views sufficiently convincing, to command attention 
and an answer equally logically argued.' — Spectator. 


From Tripoli to Bornu. 

By Hanns Vischer, M.A., PoHtical Service, Northern Nigeria. 

With Illustrations and a Map. 12s. 6d. net. 

' Mr. Vischer's narrative is one of enthralling interest.' — DaHy Graphic. 


By Georgina Binnie Clark. 

Second Impression. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo., 6s. 

' Miss Clark tells the story of two English girls' first visit to Canada with a 
lightness and reality of touch that make it more readable than many a novel.' — 
Daily Mail. 


By E. W. Morris, Secretary of the Hospital. 
With numerous Illustrations. 6s. net. 



By A:-:xE Douglas Sedgwick, Author of ' Valerie Upton,' 
' Amabel Channice,' etc. 6s. 

' A figure never to be forgotten.' — Standard. 

' There are no stereotyped patterns here.' — Daily Chronicle. 

' A very graceful and charming comedy.' — Manchester Guardian. 


By Mary J. H. Skrine. 

Second Impression, 6s. 

' j\Irs. Skrine's admirable novel is one of those unfortunately rare books 
which, without extenuating the hard facts of life, maintain and raise one's belief 
in human nature. The story is simple, but the manner of its telling is admirably 
uncommon. Her portraits are quite extraordinarily vivid.' — Spectator. 





Music Library 

University of California at 

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